Told me they liked my lessons

If there’s one thing I have learned during almost ten years teaching young and very young learners is that they are going to show you when they like or don’t like your lessons. They can do that through naughty behaviour, cooperative actions, by hugging you or they will just simply say “I don’t like this lesson”.

When they don’t like your lessons, there’s always the option of developing an action plan in order to ask them what they want (games! songs!) and what they specifically don’t like doing. They usually have strong opinions on those matters and will (hopefully) help you.

When they tell you they like your lessons, it means you’re on the right path. However, as much as teachers enjoy hearing that, it may makes us wonder “what if I don’t live up to their expectations anymore?” or “are they going to enjoy my lessons forever?” or even “when are they going to stop liking my lessons?” :O

It’s been two months since the beginning of the year and things are going well so far. Because this unit’s main topic was describing people, I was able to bring many different games for my students, such as Guess Who?, describe and draw, and guess the thief. Also, thanks to the course book, there were chants to work on pronunciation and a really nice song about a thief who gets away. Therefore, I can say that lessons have been quite fun, and students highly motivated, which makes me want to prepare even better lessons.

However, as I have mentioned, how do I keep my students motivated? I have read a few things on motivation in the ELT classroom, but there always seem to be the consensus of “whatever suits your students”. You can’t always please them because they need to do some things that, even if they do not like them, we know they are important and will bring good results in the future. We also need to ensure students can see their progress, even if it is in the form of “what have I learned today?” by the end of the lesson.

Anyway, I just hope they keep their motivation high and come to class with a smile on their faces because that’s what I am here for: to see them happy to learn! 🙂

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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