Monday, October 24, 2011

You Goofy Kids Will Speak English

*Next post will be an update about my on going mental issues. I want to write about something which gives me great joy this time. 

Teaching kids is a measure of what makes or breaks a person`s desire to teach. Unlike adults a kid don`t give a fuck. A kid will pretty much be themselves all the time. They are sure to be selfish, rude and self absorbed much more often then a fully mature adult. Yet, their minds are beautiful and you, the teacher, have the unique ability to be one of the biggest influences in their life. So, stop being a lazy prick when it comes to teaching kids!

There are some damn good teachers out there teaching kids; Chris who writes the Confessions of a Badboy in Japan blog is one of them. Sadly, most of the teachers I know hate teaching kids. They talk so much shit when kids are on their schedule for the day. It only slightly pisses me off because I know just how much job satisfaction and general fun they are missing out on. When kids are on my schedule I know my day will be pretty damn good. Most little ones look up to a teacher. You are their role model and giver of something they cannot get anywhere else; the English language. You would be surprised how many kids look forward all week to their English lesson. It is a really big deal for them. You are that teacher who speaks that funny language which is fun to speak. With all of that said, there is still the job of attempting to teach them.

Most kids have very little focus. When a kid does not want to chill out for a few minutes and learn the base material for the lesson it can make you almost want to walk out of the classroom. I always keep in mind that I am in control of the class. Some kids tend to think that THEY are the boss but that ends when they take my lessons. We have a lot of fun in class but it must always be understood that I am the boss. We get out of our seats and put English into action in every lesson but only when it is time to do so. If I get one who thinks that he/she is going to climb on shit, sit on the table or be a general ass then it is time to learn who is the boss. Remember they are kids so it does not take any harsh methods to get them under control. There are a few basic things I do to remind them that it is MY class.

First, I always try to show them respect. I say, `Hiro! It is book time now. Games come later. It is dangerous to climb on things. Sit down!` I will try that a few times until it become clear the student has no interest in listening to me. The next thing I usually do is pull the old `have it your way buddy.` I simply start the lesson and leave them in the dust. If they don`t want to do what I say then they will do nothing. Usually when they see that the lesson has started and they did not get their invitation, they will sit down and chill out long enough for me to get the ball rolling. Although, sometimes it is simply not enough. As a final measure I will gently pick them up and place them in their seat and proclaim, `Hiro! You sit here. No seat; no game later.` That almost always does the trick. The game is what they always look forward to because they get to have fun with me and use the language we studied. Believe it or not but most kids, especially the 4-6 year age range, like the teacher. They want your attention because they think you are the coolest adult they know. Remember that in Japan you look act and speak nothing like their parents. In my experience they usually misbehave because, in their minds, you will think they are cool like you. They are NOT cool like me and never will be because they are kids and I am a fully grown adult. Their bullshit is not cool in my world.

There is of course that one kid who wants to be a little asshole to you and every student in the class. This type of kid is usually between the age of 5-12 and will rebel against everything because their parents are too fucked up to teach them any manners. In those situations it is time to get real. For example, from time to time I run across the little boy who likes to hit girls. That is a bad habit which could develop into something far worse when they get older. If it was my school their little butt would be out the door. Sadly, I don`t have my own school. I work for a greedy company which refuses to turn away any student as long as the parents pay in cash for lessons every month. So, I have to reenforce basic social morals on the spot. I stop the hitting and say, `Hit me big man!` with a strong enough look on my face to show them this is serious and unacceptable. They stop hitting girls pretty quickly. The other type of little bad ass I usually run across is the one who likes to throw random shit and say profane words in Japanese. In that case I have to prepare the class ahead of time so they there is almost nothing to throw. If I use balls turning the lesson, I keep those balls close to me and out of reach. When they use profane Japanese words I just point at him/her and repeat what they just said. The shock of hearing me say a profane Japanese word, which they just said themselves, is enough to get them to stop.

But getting the little ones focused is only one small part of a good kids teacher`s method. The most important thing is actually teaching them to speak the English language.
 (I am not worried about revealing one of many lesson structures I use because over time all lesson structures change)
I usually do it like this:

1)Happy Hello(students must try to tell me their feeling)
2)Homework check(If there is homework to review)
3) Simon says with the textbook(each student must say either book up,book down,book under the table, book on top of the table. After each command everyone must do what was said)
4)Open book and drill target vocab. and sentences
5) Muilti-Media (usually a CD with listen and repeat activity but anything which reenforces the target language i.e. internet, slide show ect).
6) One practice conversation with each other(among things it helps them to understand the difference between a question and a statement.)
7) Short mini-quiz(any type of quiz style which challenges them to listen to the language and choose the correct answer.)
Game time(any interactive game which involves using the target language for the game to move forward).
8) Homework reminder and Happy Good Bye

This lesson structure is only a base. A kind of guideline I use when working out a way to give the little ones the best I got. This is not the only lesson structure I use when teaching kids. I have 10 different base lesson structures I use for kids. Depending on age and ability. There is no cookie cutter method for teaching kids. It frustrates the living shit out of me when these damn English education companies force teachers to follow a fucking cookie cutter lesson method which quickly becomes stale and totally useless. A better way to do things is to train the teachers on a basic lesson structure and let them experiment from that point. The teachers who give a damn will end up with something totally new and unique over time. The lazy bastards will keep doing the same shit over and over again.  As for me, I am told to do cookie cutter lessons but I just cannot bring myself to do it. The little ones deserve better than that. Most of the kids I teach do in fact get better. I can see for myself that their English ability improves. That is good enough for me to realize that I am doing something right.