The most beautiful english coursebook award!

The winner's Cup!

The winner’s Cup!

I am sure, many of  you will be surprised to know  that, our Greek State school 3rd graders’ English books, have been…black and white for some years now, mainly, due to financial reasons!!

To start with, here’s some basic information for you…..Within the context of the Project entitled “New Foreign Language Education Policy in Schools: English for Young Learners” (EYL), English has been introduced as a compulsory subject in primary school from the first grade in 20% of the primary state schools of the country. In other words, the first foreign language has been introduced at age 6-7 and the programme has been piloted. In the rest of the state schools, foreign language learning starts in the third grade, i.e. at age 8-9. This innovation is one of the components of an enriched school curriculum introduced by the Greek Ministry of Education in 2010-11, on an experimental basis, in 800 of the largest state schools in the country. Thanks to this project therefore, which was expanded in 2011-12 to include 161 more schools operating as enriched-curriculum “all-day” schools, 40% of the first and second grade pupils in Greece are now starting foreign language learning from an early age.

Having a look at the candidate books in groups...

Having a look at the candidate books in groups…

Both our  books,  the Magic Book  pilot edition and Magic Book 2,  have been prepared by two faculty members of the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The authors,Marina Matthaioudaki and Thomai Alexiou have supervised,edited and contributed to the writing of these books. The rest of the authoring team consists of teacher practitioners with a rich teaching experience at state primary schools. This cooperation between academics and practitioners allowed the team to base their teaching choices and suggestions on theoretical models and on research results in the field of early foreign language learning.The

Magic Book pilot edition is also generating Magic Book 1, ( 3rd graders book)  which will be ready for publication in full colour ,hopefully, this year!
mosaic 3rd grade book awards4

Τhis is what one of the book pages looks like, after the student’s artistic touch!

I just love our state books!  Their methodological aims really  appeal to me!

  • They use  an eclectic approach (a combination of different approaches, of language learning methodologies and of various techniques) that will motivate and engage learners (e.g. Suggestopedia, Total Physical Response etc.).
  • They select  activities that are conducive to the broader pedagogical aims (development of co-operation skills, development of learning strategies etc.).
  • They select  fun activities and creative tasks that allow learners to approach and process the new language in different ways.

I  enjoyed  using them at first, even in their black and white edition ! But  then,  one day a couple of years ago, I realised that  colour, which was missing, has the ability to make an impact on mood, and  colours appeal to all children because of the way they make them feel. Colours evoke happy or pleasant emotions. It was then, when  I decided to do something about it… And I came up with the idea of a… class competition : the ” most beautiful english course book” competition! That  way,  I would   appeal to the competitive urge in many students by getting them to produce art work for the  competition.

Alexiana,  was among the winners!

Alexiana, was among the winners!

Since that day, at the beginning of each school year, I tell my 3rd graders that, if they wish to take part in our class competition, they have to make sure that they colour every bit of their english  coursebook and make it look as attractive as possible till the end of the school year!

By  the end of the school year , we follow the steps below:

  • Evaluate and reflect upon the  candidate books
  • Develop criteria for our special   Class Book Award category
  • Nominate books that we  feel are worthy of  our Class Book Award status
  • Have a look at books recommended by  students
  • Vote to determine which books will receive our  Class Book Award
Happy owners of really beutiful coursebooks!

Happy owners of really beutiful coursebooks!

I always make sure that a brief discussion ,about what would make a book worthy of a nomination, is held in class!

At first, many students support their best friend’s candidate book but, later after we have discussed in groups and in class about certain criteria , they usually, change their mind…

I later , pass out the final ballots and have students place their votes, I allow students to vote for two books!

Book Award Ceremony

 Once we  have tallied the votes from the ballots, it is time to hold a Book Award ceremony. I try to make this as exciting and authentic as possible. I use a podium for presenters to stand behind when announcing the winners, and I use a fake microphone when I am “hosting” the ceremony. There are little presents for all the participants  and special presents, among which a…cup , for the three best books!

I also, take lots of  photos and put them up on our english class  notice board! They feel so proud!

I have   started  this  art project, simply to engage my third  graders !  I also want them, both  to personalize  their own books and  to express themselves through their artistic talents! I believe that , students must take ownership of their own education, starting with their own  coursebook! My students love this art project, because it’s fun and provides them with authentic self-expression: The freedom of choice, thought, and feeling.

Generally talking , we as teachers , need to be creative and make our  lessons personal to our students in all different ways.  We should give them ownership of all aspects of their learning  and I know we will see a difference, especially when they feel we believe in them and  in their talents !

There are little presents for all the students who dare to participate and special presents among which a…cup , for the three best books!

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Drama in our english class

" Interviewing the ...greek Prime Minister":I use improvisation activities a lot. My role is to provide the context and the students act out their roles spontaneously without any planning.

” Interviewing the …greek Prime Minister”:I use improvisation activities a lot. My role is to provide the context and the students act out their roles spontaneously without any planning.

Language teachers have to face two difficulties in their classrooms. On the one hand they need to change the naturally exuberant imaginative energy of the children into activity which is not merely enjoyable but which also has a language pay-off. On the other, they need to develop a repertoire of concrete activities which appeal to children to do as well to avoid chaos and boredom.

" Interviewing....Virgin Mary":The classroom game of pretending to interact in English is a rehearsal for future interactions in English.

” Interviewing….Virgin Mary”:The classroom game of
pretending to interact in English is a rehearsal
for future interactions in English.

Just a few drama activities can bring an EFL/ESL classroom to life. The trends in English Language Teaching (ELT) lean heavily toward communicative and authentic language use. Drama provides lots of immediate resources and is fun for teacher and students alike.

I mainly use Drama in class Projects presentations !Also, I love staging mini-musicals at the end of each school year!

School Musicals

Enthusiastic audience!!

Enthusiastic audience!!

School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions. It has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more. School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

Taking part in a school musical production has many benefits for children – increased self-esteem, the development of their dramatic and musical talents, and the opportunity to learn about working together as part of a team.

I find ideas in our library English Readers or in different  books or sites such as

http://www.childrenstheatreplays.com/schoolplays.htm

The main points concerning drama, which  I have in mind ,when I ask my students to get involved in such  activities ,are:

"The Wizard of Oz":School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions

“The Wizard of Oz”:School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions

Suspension of disbelief
When we watch a film or a play on television
or in the theatre, we ignore the fact that the
actors are not actually, detectives, doctors or
murderers. We engage in the drama because
we are able to suspend our disbelief, we are
able to pretend that the actors are the
characters they portray that the locations are
not stage sets or studios and the words spoken
by the actors are a prepared script, not the
spontaneous thoughts of the characters.

" Alice in Wonderland":School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

” Alice in Wonderland”:School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

" The Wizard of Oz": A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

” The Wizard of Oz”: A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

Students in an ELT classroom also need to
suspend disbelief, otherwise they would be
endlessly frustrated by the fact that the
teacher does not speak in the mother tongue
she shares with her students.
Drama and Games
‘Pretend games’ are a central part of a child’s
education. When they dress up as a princess,
they become a princess. Their toys are not
painted pieces of metal, wood or plastic, they
are cars, guns, space rockets. Their toys get
sick, recover, get angry and feel emotions.
The ELT classroom is a ‘pretend game’ in
exactly the same way.
Preparation for real life
Few of our students will become princesses
or astronauts, but all of them will become
English language users. The classroom game of
pretending to interact in English is a rehearsal
for future interactions in English.

"The Wizard of Oz": At the beginning students will be hesitant and shy to participate in the activities, but after a few sessions they will become more enthusiastic and there will be a phenomenal improvement in their confidence level.

“The Wizard of Oz”: At the beginning students will be hesitant and shy to participate in the activities, but after a few sessions they will become more enthusiastic and there will be a phenomenal improvement in their confidence level.

Most actors would agree that rehearsals are a
time for hard work, careful listening and
intense performance but they are also an
enjoyable experience. They are a time for
experimenting and having fun before the real
audience arrives.

Students and teachers need to adopt the same
attitude to their language classes.

Drama or dramatic activities I use in my classes

Mime

Drama encourages adaptability, fluency, and communicative competence .

Drama encourages adaptability, fluency, and communicative competence .

Mime helps develop students’ power of imagination and observation and can also be quite simply ” a source of great enjoyment” with students tending “to be very enthusiastic about this aspect of drama”, (Hayes, 1984)

"The Wizard of Oz": The main benefit of role play from the point of view of language teaching is that it enables a flow of language to be produced that might be otherwise difficult or impossible to create

“The Wizard of Oz”: The main benefit of role play from the point of view of language
teaching is that it enables a flow of language to be produced that might be otherwise difficult or impossible to create

Its strength lies in that although no language is used during
the mime, the mime itself can act as a catalyst to generate and elicit language before, during and after the activity.

Role Play

In role play the participants are assigned roles which they act out in a given scenario.

"Your face sounds familiar- A concert": Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

“Your face sounds familiar- A concert”: Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

The main benefit of role play from the point of view of language
teaching is that it enables a flow of language to be produced that might be otherwise difficult or impossible to create. Role play can also help recreate the language students used in different situation, the sort of language students are likely to need outside the classroom

Simulation

" Your face sounds familiar-A concert": The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

” Your face sounds familiar-A concert”: The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

My students have roles, functions, duties ,
and responsibilities within a structured situation involving problem solving.
Simulations are generally held to be a structured set of circumstances’ that mirror real life and in which participants act as instructed.

A simulation activity is one where the students  discuss a problem within a defined setting, In simulation activities, the students are either playing themselves or someone else.

" A Eurovision song contest parody": Here's an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in...Eurovision 2013!!

” A Eurovision song contest parody”: Here’s an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in…Eurovision 2013!!

A simulation activity provides a specific situation within which students can practice various communication skills like asserting oneself, expressing opinions, convincing others, arguing eliciting opinions, group-problems-solving, analyzing situations and so on…

Improvisation

Improvisation is an excellent technique to use in the FL/L2 classroom as it motivates the learners to be active participants in authentic situations thereby reducing their self consciousness. At the beginning students will be hesitant and shy to participate in the activities, but after a few sessions they will become more enthusiastic and there will be a phenomenal improvement in their confidence level.

Christmas sketses , are a good chance for my youngest learners, to use their english for the first time, in front of a real audience!

Christmas sketses , are a good chance for my youngest learners, to use their english for the first time, in front of a real audience!

I use it a great deal in my lessons!

"Alice and Peter Pan ": Using puppets in my ELT class, has been really beneficial for my youngest students! Even the most shy ones, want to take part!

“Alice and Peter Pan “: Using puppets in my ELT class, has been really beneficial for my youngest students! Even the most shy ones, want to take part!

Improvisation exercises could involve an entire class of learners or smaller groups.
Once the context has been provided the learners will participate spontaneously in the exercise.

A whole class improvisation exercise could eg  involve the students at a market where some are the buyers and others the sellers. My role is to provide the context and the participants act out their roles spontaneously without any planning.

Puppet theatre

At the mini market: sketses can prove to be valuable in TEFL! Great fun!

At the mini market: sketses can prove to be valuable in TEFL! Great fun!

I often use finger play activities, chants and actions songs to help make transitions in the junior class more effective, settling everyone down so that I’ve got all of the children’s attention and also, help them learn in the most enjoyable way!

Puppets can be used in an English class:

  • to teach greetings
  • to teach prepositions
  • to teach comparatives and superlatives
  • to dramatize dialogues
  • in word games
  • to present facts about nutrition
  • in rhythm studies
  • in biographies
  • in sketches
In role play the participants are assigned roles which they act out in a given scenario.

In role play the participants are assigned roles which they act out in a given scenario.

Puppetry is of special benefit to shy and nervous children and also gives the feeling of involvement and participation to the entire class. Our puppet shows give a sense of relief from the tension of classroom teaching and add variety to the lesson.

Role play can also help recreate the language students used in different situation, the sort of language students are likely to need outside the classroom

Role play can also help recreate the language students used in different situation, the sort of language students are likely to need outside the classroom

Therefore, a puppet theatre can be an excellent piece of equipment in a second language classroom….trust me!

In general, Drama  activities facilitate the type of language behaviour that should lead to fluency, and if it is accepted that the learners want to learn a language in order to make themselves understood in the target language, then drama does indeed further this end.

” Why use drama in the EFL classroom?” We can create desirable conditions for learning and teaching in our EFL classes using drama activities and it is very enjoyable for both students and teachers!

” Why use drama in the EFL classroom?” We can create desirable conditions for learning and teaching in our EFL classes using drama activities and it is very enjoyable for both students and teachers!

" Interviewing....Barbie": ‘Pretend games’ are a central part of a child’seducation. When they dress up as a princess,they become a princess.

” Interviewing….Barbie”: ‘Pretend games’ are a central part of a child’seducation.
When they dress up as a princess,they become a princess.

The advantages to be gained from the use of drama is that students become more confident in their use of English by experiencing the language in operation. Drama in the English language classroom is ultimately indispensable because it gives learners the chance to use their own personalities. It draws upon students’ natural abilities to imitate and express themselves, and if well-handled should arouse interest and imagination. Drama encourages adaptability, fluency, and communicative competence . It puts language into context, and by giving learners experience of success in real-life situations it should arm them with confidence for tackling the world outside the classroom.

To summarise…

I want to stress that, children learn languages actively seeking to interpret meaning from context ,making creative use of language they know, using an instinct for talking and interacting and indirect learning e.g. through games and songs.a capacity to find fun ,an ability to use fantasy and imagination.

And also it is very important to keep in mind that learning and teaching is a very complicated process.

mosaic skets triti 2

“…we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child. “ Dr. Maria Montessori

" Interviewing ....Hurem, Suleiman's Sultana": Children learn languages actively seeking to interpret meaning from context ,making creative use of language they know, using an instinct for talking and interacting and indirect learning e.g. through games and songs.a capacity to find fun ,an ability to use fantasy and imagination.

” Interviewing ….Hurem, Suleiman’s Sultana”: Children learn languages actively seeking to interpret meaning from context ,making creative use of language they know, using an instinct for talking and interacting and indirect learning e.g. through games and songs.a capacity to find fun ,an ability to use fantasy and imagination.

The mime itself can act as a catalyst to generate and elicit language before, during and after the activity.

The mime itself can act as a catalyst to generate and elicit language before, during and after the activity.

And so: ” Why use drama in the EFL classroom?” We can create desirable conditions for learning and teaching in our EFL classes using drama activities and it is very enjoyable for both students and teachers!

Useful Bibliography

Charlyn Wessel , 1987, Drama ,Oxford; OUP, Resource Books for Teachers.

Jill Hadfield , 1992, Classroom Dynamics , Oxford; OUP Resource Books for Teachers.

Sarah Phillips, 2003,Drama with Chidren, Oxford; OUP, Resource Books for Teachers.

S. Halliwell, 1995, Teaching English in the Primary Classroom ,Oxford; OUP, Resource Books for Teachers.

mosaic skets sheak 13

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