by Merve SÖĞÜT & Polen ÖZTÜRK
We observed a beginner class in METU preparatory school. We want to be instructors at a university, and we were wondering about how a beginner teacher manages the class, so we wanted to observe a university class.
Teachers were really busy; students were asking questions to them even in the breaks. They were so busy that our mentor teacher had to go to doctor in a class hour by arranging another instructor to students. Like the teachers, students were busy, too, as they were beginner class and they had to study hard to pass the exam. As the classes are exam based, they can get a little repetitive. However, the teacher was doing her best to make the students enjoy. We would like to work in universities, but prefer not to prepare our students to an exam, but communicate with them, and make them practice the language.
Classroom atmosphere: Students and the teacher love each other, they make jokes, talk about themselves, and care about each other; so they were happy to be together. However, some of the students come late as they were uncomfortable with the classes’ starting at 08.40. This environment made us remember our last year of high school when we were studying hard for my exam. They are studying exam oriented, so if we were students in this class we would feel stressed. To add this, if we were the teacher, we would feel extensively responsible to make our students get high grades in the proficiency exam.
Student-teacher interaction: Students ask whatever comes to their mind without any hesitation, and the teacher responds them passionately, so there is an effective interaction between the teacher and students. Furthermore, the teacher was ill, and students asked about her illness, which means that the students care about and love their teacher. The teacher tries to make the students speak, but due to the level of them they have difficulty in forming sentences. That’s why teacher talks the most.
Medium of instruction: Students learn English mostly by reading and writing, but they sometimes do listening and speaking activities. They often write paragraphs, and the teacher gives them feedback to make them correct their faults. Furthermore; they read a lot as homework, and in the class. Medium of instruction is English, the teacher uses L1 only when needed, or to make jokes to entertain students.
Types of materials and activities used in the class: The teacher uploads the handouts, slides, and homework to Edmodo; and students can reach the materials they need easily thanks to this program. They use a book called 0.5 OLR, and make reading activities, and lots of vocabulary. Moreover, the teacher gives reading handouts with fill in the blanks exercises to them. They make listening activities, answer the related questions, and learn the vocabularies in it. We find these activities useful in terms of students’ improving their reading, writing, and listening skills, however along with these activities, we would make speaking activities, too.
Approaches, methods, and techniques used in the class: We can’t say that the teacher used a specific method, however she used mostly GTM. Furthermore, she used some techniques of ALM, DM, CLL, and TPR. She also used some of the techniques of ALM. For example; she used transformation drill. She wrote a sentence about ‘’can’’, and students convert it to its negative and question form. She used question and answer drill, too by asking students about their abilities and interests, which develops students’ responding in target language. Furthermore, she used some of the principles of DM, too. First of all she used the target language all the time, and she didn’t translate the sentences into L1. She demonstrated new vocabularies with visual aids, and used pictures, and gestures to make the meaning clearer. She didn’t correct the errors directly; she made them choose between what they said and the correct answer, or repeated in a questioning voice. To add this, the teacher used desuggestopedia only by motivating the students and creating a cheerful environment, which helps to desuggest the psychological barriers of learning. One of the most important weaknesses of the classroom environment was that there was no peripheral learning. In one of the classes teacher used the technique of being human computer which is a technique of CLL. Students were forming sentences, but they had difficulty in remembering the words, so the teacher translated Turkish words into English. Finally, she conveyed the meaning of some words through actions, which is one of the techniques of TPR; however, students didn’t imitate the actions.
Anecdotes: One of the things that could have been better was that the teacher limited learning in one of the classes. One of the students asked the difference of two things, and she said this is beyond your level; you don’t need to know that. She could explain first, and then if the student doesn’t understand, she could try to teach by simplifying it. Unlike this, something positive happened, too. For instance, even if they are beginners, they were struggling to pass the exam and asking questions to their teacher and to us even in the breaks. Moreover, she was making students focused and creating excitement by counting down while students were doing exercises. Furthermore, she was giving examples about students’ daily lives to draw students’ attention.
Overall reflection on school observation: It was a great experience for us to observe a class that we want to study with in the future. We are just sophomore; however this observation was like an internship which we will experience when we are senior. We think this experience was really useful for our friends who couldn’t decide whether to be a teacher in the future, or not. Thanks to this observation we understood the importance of using different methods in class rather than just using GTM. We weren’t sure about whether to study with teenagers, or in a primary school, however thanks to this observation we surely decided to work in universities, and we think to be able to decide this when one is just a sophomore is an advantage. We would like to thank Dr. Yasemin Tezgiden Cakcak for making us experience our future job, and contributing to our future.