I like the concept of school life – in my country and the target TL – as the basis for a unit. It incorporates a cultural learning opportunity – especially for my students who regard the Japanese school system as quite different from their own. It also mirrors what happens in real life in Japan – as Japanese parents and students attend “School Fairs” to decide which middle or high school to try to enter.
On the language side it’s a great way for my students to use particular constructions – especially as they pertain to ‘rules’ and activities. My Year 3 summative oral for the unit is an interactive one. Students create their own themed schools – from sports to anime and even the ‘lazy’ school, then devise some rules (how the school operates), subjects, clubs and even the uniform. On the day of the oral students divide their time between giving information about their school and gathering information from other schools. It’s also a great chance for them to practice the culturally relevant ‘niceties’ that would be involved in this promotional situation.
Prior to the Oral Students Have– explored school life/rules/expectations in Canada/Japan, uniforms, reading/discussion on a day at a school in Japan, discussion of types of clubs/subjects, -explored/practiced language including “you may..” “you must..” “you may not..” “we’d prefer that you..” etc built from their knowledge of their own school -practiced oral interaction including how you communicate when you don’t understand something and strategies to use to help someone to understand
What Students Prepare/Practice (in pairs) For the Oral:– a ‘sign’ for their school (name/pictures only) -information about their school – they can have notes in English (if they forget something) but not in TL including: name, theme, various rules, subjects taught, clubs, the uniform, other interesting facts -asking questions to get information about a school -cultural ‘norms’ in this conversation – greetings, gestures, opening/closing phrases
How It Works on the Day-recording sheet with ‘prompts’ (“rules” “uniform” etc) for recording information – desks in circle – one partner behind/one on the ‘inside’ -sign stand(picture stand) – I bought mine at the dollar store – I use them for all sorts of orals -inside partner visits at least 3 other schools while other gives info -students move on their own from school to school as tables open up (you may have to facilitate the first few times) -if they are waiting – they stand in the middle of the circle until a chair opens up -1/2 way through total time they switch (even if their partner is in mid-explanation – they can slide in) -all oral language in TL – all written info in English
Evaluations – Students hand in their oral evaluation/recording sheet at the end of the time.Oral – I ask students to self evaluate for their communicative interaction and support the choices with a written piece. The evaluation is an “always/often/sometimes/never” choice for: – perceived ability to get their ideas across -degree of comfort asking/answering questions -how much they may/may not have used English -ability to facilitate communication Written – The next day students are given their oral sheet for their summative written test. They are asked to: -identify the school that they would like to go to (not their own) -tell why using supporting details from their sheet -relate the details of the school to their interests.
There is a lot of “buzz in the room” during this – and many opportunities for students to use practice the full range of their interpersonal communication skills. It’s an easy setup and the meaningful use of the information gathered is the reward for me.