Saturday, May 26, 2007

Big fat lies

In my very large class today I did some 'repeat after me,' using the dialog in the textbook. They love 'repeat after me.' I correct their pronunciation all the time, and make them repeat things over and over and over. The more they have to repeat something the more they love it. I think they feel comfortable trying out 'foreign' ways of pronouncing things when they can safely hide their voices in the group yell.

"It's a beautiful day," I said, and the class obediently roared,


"That's a big fat lie!" I said.

"THAT'S A BIG FAT LIE!" they bellowed back, somewhat uncertainly. Then they looked up, puzzled, because that wasn't in the textbook.

Then they noticed that I was staring out the window and frowning at the very heavy rain, and after about ten seconds (during which they were getting out of parrot mode and replaying what they'd just said in their heads), they cracked up.

"Big fat lie," I heard them giggling to each other. Expressions like that never turn up in the textbook, and I suspect I am going to be hearing it again.

In the same class, I had them in groups of six to eight for conversation practice, and told them to change partners within their group for four different conversations. They're so cooperative it has turned out easier to let them organize themselves than to try to do it myself.

One group of eight, I noticed, was strictly segregated. The girls were talking to the girls, and the boys were talking to the boys. By the time they got to the fourth conversation they had a problem. The girls did not want to appear forward by turning around to talk to the boys in the row behind them, but they were supposed to have a new partner and that was the only way to do it. The boys were staring at the backs of the girls's heads and waiting patiently for them to muster enough courage to turn around, but they didn't.

I didn't want the class to slow down too much, so I went back to the group and whispered confidentially in one of the girls' ears:

"The boys are very shy. Can you turn around, and help them?"

She stared at me. I smiled at her, and she broke into giggles. The other girls wanted to know what she was giggling about, and when I got back to the front of class and looked back at them, four heads were leaning together and the girl I had spoken to was whispering to the others what I'd said. They seemed to think it was the funniest thing they'd ever heard, and laughed and laughed and laughed. The boys looked puzzled. Then the girls turned around, perfectly synchronized, and told the boys which part they were to take in the next conversation.

I guess the girls understood I was teasing them about their own shyness, but was it really that entertaining? Not that it really matters. It worked wonderfully.

I love that class. Forty-five students is way too many, but with forty-five COOPERATIVE students it is working far better than I ever expected.


Paula said...

Thanks for the smile. :)

Maria said...

hey i just read all your comments - will blog about this but just a shortcut - i finally got a parasol today, but it is in cream b/c i remember hearing that light colors reflect the sun. but since you day dark one give you more shade, then all the more reason to get that black parasol with green and white striped trim! (the one i got is very kate spade-ish, so i was really happy, tho i did pay 4000yen for it but i love it. i definitely plan to use them at home too and i dont care if people stare, lol. aum

Badaunt said...

There was some research published in the Japanese papers about parasol colours a few years ago, and that's when suddenly black suddenly became popular, because it was shown that black parasols blocked out a LOT more of the light than white ones did.

But you don't really need 'scientific' research to learn that. Just get one of each, and go out on a blazing hot day. You can feel the difference. The first parasol I ever got was at a flea market in the middle of summer - we were spending so much time trying to find shade, and then just sitting and drinking water and sweating, that in the end we decided parasols might make it possible for us to actually wander around a bit. We tested a few at the stall selling them, and both bought black because with lighter ones you could still feel the sun hitting your face.

It really only matters when it's really hot, though.