Creating Language Opportunities

I have asked my students to watch English tv shows and movies to give them more exposure to the language in a more realistic setting. I told them no period pieces; the last thing I need is them running around addressing each other as “sire” and saying “thee” or “thou.” Contemporary stuff. If they really want to learn slang stuff, I recommended reality tv. Does it make me a bad teacher that I basically assigned them to watch trash like Real Housewives? Hmm…maybe. I tell you what, that’s a rhetorical question and you don’t need to answer it!

I took a class poll of some American films to find something everyone was at least a little familiar with. Turns out, everyone seemed to know the latest Star Wars movie. So we have been watching it in class the last two sessions so that everyone can see it in English. I was hoping that by showing them something they were already a little familiar with plot-wise that they would not get totally lost or frustrated if they missed some of the dialog here and there. After the film is over, I am going to give them some newspaper articles from The Daily Mail or maybe a sports magazine and see how much of it thatmy students can read aloud and/or comprehend. I want them to learn a more formal way of speaking, which is how I teach in class. Sometimes I think the textbooks we have can be a little stiff, so I thought giving them some more real-world exposure would be helpful.I want to present them with supplemental stuff that is actually interesting and appealing. I am hoping it will motivate them a little better than just sitting around and arguing about how hard English is and how in the world we came up with the spelling of Wednesday.

After that, I have a few other teachers coming in, all either Britons or Americans, who are going to break into small groups with the class and we’re going to carry out some scenarios. Typical stuff: ordering at a restaurant, asking directions because you are lost, casual conversations, asking for help at a store, and an emergency room visit. This is mostly to prepare the students because we are going on an overnight trip to London.I am hopeful that the tv watching and small groups will prepare them a little more for the way people actually talk.Being in London will help them get some practical experience, but it isn’t quite like the exposure I am getting by being here. I have to kind of work with within the confines of the job description, though, so that’s what I’m doing.

Time for me to go. I have to brush up on my British slang, too, before I embarrass myself in front of my class!