The Student Book is Now Available
Meant to combine with both Kick-Ass Lesson Plans DQA China (paperback) and Smart English DQA China (Kindle), the student book is a compressed package with each of the sixty six topics ready for spoken English practice.
The student book includes:
• All discussion questions listed in the teacher’s book along with additional material.
• Role-play and other Power Activities. Please note that if a roleplay is in more than one part, normally only the first one will be found in the student book. These are meant as a lead-in to facilitate second and third stages of the activity.
• A guide for the student on how to use the book and the approach they should take to the Smart English package.
• A guide for the student on how to get the best out of their classes and optimise their learning.
• Common student errors and how to rectify them.
• A vocabulary list at the end of each topic with the Chinese equivalent.
• A basic guide to phonetics.
• Basic grammar at a glance.
One very important thing is that the student book should in no way be used to teach classes. I’ve taught in many Chinese schools where there were no teacher’s books anywhere. Instead a whole course needed to be scraped out via one of the many battered and scrawled upon student copies. This is barely acceptable if you are a professional but something you often just have to put up with, especially in the smaller establishments. These books should be only used as a guide for your students to use, helping them move more smoothly through each topic.
Without meaning to sound too repetitious, as you will find this in other parts of the blog, you really don’t need the student book to deliver fantastic spoken English classes. All you need is the teacher’s copy and you’re away!
The problem is, that in China delivering spoken English is so unfamiliar that usually courses are aimed at delivering a bit of everything. From the beginning, Chinese kids get very little English speaking practice, instead only focusing on reading and writing skills. For most courses run by English Language Training Centres (ELTCs), text books therefore match this outlook accordingly and will include writing, reading, a CD for listening, checklists and multiple choice questions, oh and some spoken exercises! For management therefore, it is unthinkable for their clients to go without some sort of physical material on the desk in front of them.
It’s different with pure spoken English practice though. Having successfully taught full time EFL since 2005 with no use of such books anywhere, I know that students don’t care whether they have a student copy or not. In fact usually, students have had a belly full of text books by the time they cross your threshold, especially if they are doing IELTS or TOEFL. Many see spoken English classes as a way of escaping such formality.
In reality, all you need for great spoken English classes are the teacher’s books, a white board, free flowing marker pens, a clean board eraser and that each member of class has a notebook. You try telling management that though!
The dilemma between spontaneity and the student book.
The Smart English package emphasises spontaneity, moving away from the tired old models that are so familiar in ELTCs.
Smart English DQA Student Book – Advantages:
• Your class will have a physical link to the package that they have paid for. Especially at the beginning of a new course, text books help to relax the individual learner when everything is new and unfamiliar.
• A page is provided at the beginning of each topic for making notes. At first thought this doesn’t sound like anything special, but actually many students don’t bring a note book into class. They therefore fail to record and remember great tips and new language for speaking fluently in the manner of a native speaker.
This kind of note making gives the user free rein to make their book as individual as a diary. The more they record information that is regarded as relevant, the more they will return to their text book for reference in the future.
• Will keep management happy!
• For the teacher it cuts down on the amount of writing you have to do on the white board.
• It means there are less printouts that you need to prepare in advance and no more heart attacks when the printer in the office fails to cooperate yet again.
Smart English DQA Student Book – Drawbacks
It’s time for honesty of the highest order here. Personally, I’ve held back on publishing the student books, with the teacher’s version being available some two years earlier. However, I’ve always had people writing to me asking for the books due to the requirements of their management. They want to be seen to be delivering the ‘whole package’ after all. There are some very good reasons for my reluctance though.
• The book allows students to gem up on the material the night before. This is the traditional ingrained way of doing things in China. However the more they are doing this, they are less likely to be working on the targets you set them the previous lesson.
• Gemming up like this facilitates constructing model responses. This is not only one of the things any language examiner is going to be looking for, we do not use model responses in real life.
• Model answers really hinder fluency and therefore confidence building.
• Normal conversation is an interaction between two or more people, not merely answering questions about one’s self. We don’t plan ahead and this is where learning to speak spontaneously is so important in spoken English.
• When the class knows what the questions and activities are going to be, then the teacher’s ability to elicit is greatly reduced. Any professional will know that eliciting is one of the best ways of encouraging learning.
• Without being able to ‘brainstorm’ at the beginning of the lesson, new ideas can no longer flow in and change its shape or direction.
• When your students have a book in front of them, it’s often ‘heads down’ rather than ‘eyes forward’. You need full engagement from each and every one of them in listening and understanding.
In an effort to keep some form the spontaneity in your class there are some things deliberately left out of the student book and a few things you can do yourself as a teacher:
• Role-play that is split into two or three sections have not been completed in the student book. This means that the teacher can spring a surprise follow-up part without warning that will normally bring the house down.
• Insist that your students write their name in their book and you collect them in at the end of each lesson. They may complain about this at the beginning but generally because of their ingrained need to see what they will be doing the night before. Smart English advises that teachers set one or two doable confidence building targets for each student to work on every few days so they shouldn’t really need their books to refer to.
• Vocabulary lists are at the end of each topic rather than the first thing your students will see. If they need to see the list they must physically turn the pages to get to it. If they haven’t seen the list the night before you will still be able to elicit and brainstorm at the beginning of the lesson.
• As a teacher, always be aware that people are focused on the activity at hand, that they haven’t finished early and are now reading and working on the next question. Keep them going, keep them talking and keep them focused on what everyone else is doing. A simple solution to this, when you see heads down reading the next question is “Close your books!” Students moving ahead of everyone else because they can see the next question is one of the worst things that can happen as it blows your timing out. Good timing is essential in any class.
Having said all of that, there is no doubt that once you are into your Power Activities your class will erupt into action and volume levels will noticeably increase whatever. Learning has to be fun after all right?