Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Breaking The Vocal Ice

Teaching English in Sabah, Malaysia is a major challenge. If only because some of the students won't open their mouths and say a single word in English. When you ask why, they grin shyly and say,"Malu..." (I'm too shy...) There are also contemporaries who make fun of them if they speak English or worse, accuse them of showing off.

So how does an English teacher break the vocal ice? Well, if you're creative and you're open to all sorts of ideas... there's PLENTY you can do!

Exempli Gratia..

a) Make them pronounce the words or phrases displayed on the whiteboard or flash cards.
b) Read! Poems, articles, speeches, ads, labels...whatever!
c) Do jazz-chants.
d) Sing karaoke songs!
e) Do choral speaking in class.
f) Tell stories in relays (e.g. story chains)

And here is one lesson I carried out with my Form Sixes :

I presented one poem by Edwin Morgan in class (with a reasonably solemn face) and after the class had recovered their composure, I made them write their own (AND present it!)

Before you say that YOUR students cannot write poems. I tell you they CAN!

Click here to read the poem by Edwin Morgan. I dare you to do this in class...but first, a word of warning : practise at home before you bring it to the classroom. And keep a straight face.

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