Language Sensei

Thoughts on The Journey of Teaching Languages

August 5, 2017
by leesensei
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IIS it Quality Oral Interpersonal Communication?

Do you ever sit through something and wonder “What’s the point of this?”  I know that I often do. It pushed me to share with students why we are doing what we are doing. It will also assist me in my goal of implementing daily learning intentions for each class. So it a goal of mine to have students learn to/start to/be able to articulate what makes their interpersonal interactions rich & interesting. What makes it what I call ‘quality communication’? I ask my senior (3rd & 4th semester) students this often and finally I’ve found the acronym that I am looking for. So for me the purpose of their interactions can be summarized with the phrase “Quality Communication ISS….”

Informative – for us this means “Are you providing details & extended information?”  Are you including descriptors, connecting ideas, giving reasons, describing ‘how’ you do something and more? This is always related to the level of proficiency of the students. But it is a push to have them try to maximize the amount of the information that they provide….and I find it spills out into their presentation speaking/writing as well (helped along by including it my rubrics). One exercise that we use to help build this in the earlier years is a brainstorming “Wheel of Detail“. I find then as we employ this strategy my Yr3&4 students add can start to do this ‘on the fly’ as well.

Inquiring – communication is not a one-way street. Are you asking the all important follow-up questions? Are you extending the conversation by asking questions related to what is being said? Are you digging for details that you are not hearing? We start purposefully with this in Yr1 in a ‘question game‘ because quite frankly I don’t believe many of us are ‘natural communicators’ and include it in all of my interpersonal rubrics because I consider it so key. If you are not asking questions…if you are not looking for details then you are letting  your side of the communication down….

Supportive – this is a ‘dual purpose’ question for my classes. It speaks to the ability to help someone understand what you are saying. The idea that you can use any word/concept you want as long as you can get your meaning across. But it also requires students to have the confidence to say when they don’t understand. Again I start this in Yr1 and my students practice both sides of this supportive communication. I find that the ‘nerves’ around speaking are then lessened when “what if I don’t understand?” is not an issue. Students relax & know that it doesn’t matter who they are speaking with, no matter their level of proficiency, because their partner(s) will be supportive of them. In fact I often pair those of ‘varying’ levels to ensure that they develop, and practice, these supportive skills.

It’s taken time for me to articulate what I hope quality communication will be for my students….and support them in pursuing it both in and out of class…

Colleen

June 14, 2016
by leesensei
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“The Courage To Try” – Students Tell What They Learned In Language Class

8d4d7f0ab0b83ace80c036194be2da93My Yr4’s are just 10 days away from the end of school…and as always I am asking for them to reflect on their learning. They are a fantastic bunch of students who have worked their hearts out this semester – despite having the class at 8am. So at the end of their summative travel fair last week I asked them about their experience in class. I didn’t ask them what they learned in/about Japanese. Instead I asked them to look forward and reflect on what skills, if any, they might carry forward into the big world they are now entering. I should note that I did not prep them in any way for this nor go over with them what I wanted to hear from them. Some students just reflected on the immediate oral they had just completed. But it’s the answers of those who really reflected and thought that I find insightful. The prompt was:

“Language class teaches skills for life. One ‘life skill’ that I have developed/improved on during my classes is…….and this skill will be important for me in the future because..”

“To not panic. I’m the kind of person that stresses on being perfect…but this class has taught me how to let go of that…and to relax..because in the future things won’t always go as I plan them to go..”

“The most important are strategies for communication…diversifying how I communicate and being thoughtful of others during conversation is critical…especially in the future when I work in team situations.”

“Communication and understanding (of what is really being said) are key…I want to be a teacher and these skills will be key in dealing with students…”

“Asking for help when I need it and not being afraid to admit that I don’t know something…important in the future so I won’t be afraid to ask for input – and possibly lose my job!”

“Taking risks, approaching people you don’t know and speaking comfortably ….and accepting/coping with errors will be important future communication skills”

“To explain clearly what I mean and help others in understanding – especially important if I become a boss in the future!”

“Listening carefully…”

“That speaking confidently inspires confidence in me and in how others perceive me…I may be nervous but appearing calm will help me get my point across more!”

“Being able to adapt to different situations…you never know what is going to come up!”

“To communicate more freely and in a more relaxed way with people who I don’t know well…”

And my favourite…

“The courage to try….because nothing will happen if we don’t attempt…”

So in the end..in their own words..it’s about courage, risk and communication….

#jobdone

Colleen

 

 

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