The two theoretical courses I teach are: Modern American Literature and Methods of Teaching. I was very excited about the second course, because I had spent a lot of time preparing for it and designing a syllabus that focuses on intercultural issues in TESOL, so I was eager to engage my students in discussion. But when I started teaching non-native Russian speakers at the university this semester I faced three big problems.
1). My students don’t speak Russian at the sufficient level to understand academic vocabulary. Well, even not so academic. For example, they weren’t sure they understood the expression “the goal of teaching”.
2). I teach seminars and due to problem #1 my students really had no clue what the course was about.
3). My students weren’t so interested in the course to begin with and they wouldn’t participate in any discussions, online activities or even answer my questions in class. I think it could stem from previous problems.
At first I got really angry at my students, I mean, they are 3rd year students who major in Russian and I am such a non-academic professor, so what’s the deal! Then, I felt really bad for myself, I spend hours and hours designing tests and worksheets, making them “readable” for students with limited proficiency and they wouldn’t even bother bringing them to class! And, after getting over being mad, angry, frustrated and discouraged, I tossed all my lesson plans and watched this video
This is a good video for all educators, I have watched it many times. The coolest thing about the video is its presentation. I mean, look at it – it’s a cute funny cartoon! And so I had an idea…
Now, I draw everything I say. When talking about content-based instruction I drew a dumpling and by explaining how it has ingredients and how it is cooked in broth, I kind of delivered an idea. Then I used the salad analogy to explain how one can substitute different exercises that are the “ingredients” of the lesson.
I am a horrible artist, but it doesn’t seem to outweight the fact that my students don’t undestand anything without pictures.