Practiced describing a person

Today it was one of those days where nothing very special happens, but yet students did produce much more than they normally do in my lessons. We played a simple back to the board game where students had to describe the features of a face that was projected on the board for the others to draw. Then, we voted on who drew it more similar to the original drawing. It was a lot of fun!

Regarding language production, they did try to use L1 and they did try not to speak and use gestures instead (and take their friend’s pencil of their hands to draw it themselves). However, the sentences they could produce were appropriate and there was a lot of new vocabulary that I wrote on the board (e.g. eyebrows, lips, eyelashes, fringe, etc.).

Then, it was time for Movers exercises. I love working with Fun for Movers and the activities are very well thought of for children, the book is colorful and so on. The only thing is that students find it boring. I don’t know why – they couldn’t say specifically what made it boring – so I can only guess. Maybe the activities are done at random, sometimes they have no connection with the main course book, so it may be hard for the students to make the connection. However, I always try to do the Movers activities on Mondays, so there is at least the time difference between the usage of books. It is something I would like to investigate more with the students, to see if I can improve the way we use this course book.

Finally, for the following lesson, we are going to continue describing people. Hopefully, we will be able to finish the Unit on Thursday because I think they are tired of describing faces (if they aren’t, I am!). I plan on doing some writing production because we have had many speaking exercises, but for writing there were only grammar activities.

Were tested on their English skills

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I have been designing tests since I started working as a teacher in 2010. I have designed tests for beginners, children, advanced and proficiency students and I am a Cambridge Speaking examiner. I also have experience preparing students for exams, such as all the Cambridge ones. It is something I enjoy doing, even though I hope someday schools develop new means of assessing students. I believe tests are stressful, especially for young children, and not a hundred percent reliable.

As I have mentioned in my previous post, yesterday and today would be test days. I had to design the tests myself, but some of the exercises I could take from the course book’s resources cd-rom. It was decided as follows:

  • 3 listening exercises (14 points)
  • 8 grammar and vocabulary exercises (46 points)
  • 6 speaking tasks in pairs (40 points)

I believe the score was fairly distributed and the level of difficulty was challenging enough for my 9 year-old students. I could see this because I corrected the tests on the same day students did them and they seemed to reflect the abilities the students usually show me in class. In addition to that, students were pleased to receive the tests right away and seemed very happy about their results (different from the picture that illustrates this post).

As it is still something students will have to face in “real life” – such as university entrance exam, proficiency tests, etc – I believe it is important to formally test students. However, it should not be a stressful experience. We can make it enjoyable by designing tests that students will enjoy taking, that reflect what they have studied in class and, most of all, that students will feel safe doing. The learning experience should never be only for test-taking purposes, but for personal growth and teachers have a major role on making this possible.

Image via Pinterest