Friday, September 7, 2012

Fable Time

Since I've been in Korea I've always taught relate-able topics to the students so that it encourages them to speak in the target language.  In my first year I dug deep into Google to find ideas and topics that I could adapt into my classroom. In my second year I began using the prescribed textbook which made life slightly easier; however, the topics in the book were dull and the language sounded very robotic so I added a bit of my own spice to those topics and created lessons which I knew my students would enjoy.  At the start of this year I was told that we needed to grade the students for reading and my co-teacher asked me for suggestions for books.  I gave a few suggestions "Charlie and Chocolate Factory" was thrown into the mix and to my surprise that was the book the English department decided to go with.  A little into the first semester I was asked to stop teaching from the textbook and I was handed this golden opportunity to teach my students literature.  It was the start of a lot of work but the end of silly-textbook-robot-English. I grabbed the challenge and ran with it.  I surprised myself as well as my co-teachers with my careful adaptation of the text into low-intermediate ESL teaching material.

Riding on the success of the first semester, I was asked to find new literature to teach this semester.  I decided to go with fables because they are short and the language is simple enough for the students to follow.
Coming up with the idea to teach Fables was the easy part; planning the lesson was a bit of a struggle but nonetheless I got it done with the help of a few useful online tips.

The figured that the first step to teaching fable is picking a "good" version of the story.  There are a number of variations to the Aesop's original work so it's important to pick a version with simple vocabulary which are suited to second language learners.

Lead in: I began by reading through the story once.  For this you can get the students to read a small paragraph to aid in their reading practice.

Elicitation: After the first reading I got them to give their understanding of the fable.  If the language is simple they will be able to pick it up immediately.  Next, I went through each line and picked out difficult or tricky words and we discussed them, the students also wrote down the meanings in the margin.

Controlled practice: For this part I like to use an interactive activity like running dictation or a story map where they are required to document the timeline of the story.  The students get to work in groups or pairs depending on the size of the class and help each other understand the story better.  They are likely to use their mother tongue during this activity but their minds will be working over time as they will be translating their thoughts into English.

Freer practice: Our school dedicates the last 5 minutes of every class for a short time of review.  During this time I like to give the students a short worksheet with a few comprehension questions based on the story done for the day.  However, we sometimes run out of time and in this instance the students complete the worksheet as homework and we have a quick review at the start of the next lesson.

I've implemented this lesson plan in my classroom for the past month and a half and everyday I find new ways of tweaking it a little so that it doesn't become boring for both the students and myself.  Hopefully, by the end of this semester I would've mastered the art of teaching fables.  Till then, Happy Teaching.

Source: Fable Time: Using and Writing Fables in the ESL Classroom

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