On the 24th of November we – Kerstin and Pauline – held a workshop for our primary school teachers from both primary schools at Sikeud Primary School. We chose the topic “Teaching Vocabulary – Variety in methodology for diversified English lessons” because during the lesson observations we noticed that vocabulary is one of the main contents in Lao foreign language lessons. Our aim was to give the teachers theoretical background about how to teach vocabulary effectively in order to support their ability of self-assessment and to offer a variety in methodology. Therefore, we created a handout with several mind maps, diagrams and a collection of vocabulary games. Every input was supported by examples and hands-on activities.
We introduced the topic by demonstrating a short lesson sequence in German. Here, we brought real material (typical Lao fruits), used different kinds of chorus speaking and introduced two games. During this activity the teachers had the chance to put themselves into the position of the pupils learning a foreign language, and, therefore, to reflect on the reasons of what helped them exactly to understand the content, i.e. gestures, realia, etc.
Then, we discussed the first input question, “How can I motivate my pupils?” At first, we had to explain the word “motivation”. Then Bounpheng demonstrated how she motivates her pupils and how she creates a positive atmosphere, e.g. by jumping like a frog through the classroom (relating to the vocabulary to be taught). The results were written down in a mind-map with the following headlines: Teacher, comprehension, atmosphere, and meaningful content.
Afterwards, we talked about the amount of new words and “chunks” that can be taught in one lesson (five to ten words, one to two “chunks”, depending on the learner group), and that it is important to consider different learning styles and intelligences: Aural, visual, and haptic. Therefore, one should offer a variety of activities in each lesson.
The next topic we discussed was “What possibilities of communication do I have in the classroom?” We talked about conversational English, communication strategies, routines, classroom English, e.g. asking for permission, and searched for examples for each one of those.
In order to offer to our tandem-teachers an impression of how English lessons can be held, we played a short video lesson sequence of Ms Nold, a German Montessori teacher Prof. Martin had worked with in Karlsruhe. We prepared an observation exercise and reflected on how the teacher repeats vocabulary and what means of communication she uses. Our teachers seemed to be very interested in the video and we had an inspiring discussion about different classroom methodologies.
To finish the workshop, we explained the “Seven Stages of Learning a Word” in order to underline that listening comprehension should always be taught before speaking, and that reading should be instructed before writing.
At the very end, we advised our tandem-teachers to reread our workshop folder on their own at home and to try out at least two activities a week. We will be anxious to see if our workshop was successful when we observe their lessons over the next weeks.
Text by K. Petter & P. Kern
Pictures by S. Stöhrer, S. Schäfer, K. Petter & P. Kern