Yesterday I had two students and we covered the item on “locations” in which the students learn how to use map directions to describe where a city or country is. It starts out with having one student think of a country and then the other student asks “Is it (west) of China?” etc. The first student says “No, try again!” or “Yes, it is.” until the student asking can figure out what country the other is thinking of. It never fails that at least once one student asks if the country is west of country “A” and then fails to ask if it is east of the same country. They keep changing the base country without eliminating it. This results in it taking a long time to realize that country “A” IS THE country the first student was thinking of. I don’t know why this happens but it nearly always does, so usually I offer the hint that the student should ask the opposite direction using the same base country name to try to eliminate that country quickly. It seems that quite a few students lack the skill for narrowing down the possibilities quickly. So I usually have to give hints so we can move on in the lesson. On the other hand, this skill is a valuable one to learn above and beyond just learning English. So again the Smith’s curriculum has proven to be very valuable and well planned out. The students yesterday had a nice laugh when the one finally realized that the country was Vietnam after about 5 minutes. Here is a nice place to teach students the idiom “zero in on”.
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English-Okamoto)