Teach English in Jiukou Zhen - Jingmen Shi

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The most helpful teaching strategy that I learned about in this course was ESA lesson planning. An ESA lesson is one that includes three distinct stages: Engage, Study, and Activate. A successful lesson should include all three components, beginning with an engage stage and concluding with an activate stage. I plan to use this framework for my own lesson planning because it is flexible, yet has enough structure to establish students’ expectations for how they will learn during every class period. I especially like the distinction between study and activate because it helps me understand the role of different types of activities in a lesson. Throughout my training to be a language teacher, I have been confused about what types of activities ought to be included in a language lesson. There seemed to be a dichotomy between “fun” activities and “boring” activities; between communication-driven courses and lecture-driven courses. I suspected that worksheets and lectures were easy for teachers to produce, but not very constructive for language students. The ESA framework has helped clear up this confusion for me. Now I understand that conversation activities are not better than worksheets, they simply serve a different instructional purpose. A guided conversation, such as an information gap activity, is part of the activate stage of a lesson. In this type of activity, students learn by experiencing and using concepts that they have already been exposed to. They may also inquire about new concepts as they discover a need for them. A worksheet can be a useful part of the study stage of a good lesson. During this stage, the teacher explicitly explains information about the language. This may be done to review information that students have already seen or to introduce new information. One important advantage of including both study stages and activate stages in each lesson is that it balances teacher talk time with student talk time. A study stage emphasizes teacher talk time. The teacher’s purpose in talking is to communicate information that students will need to use the language more successfully. Including an activate stage after a study stage motivates students to listen to the teacher for two reasons: it shortens the amount of time that students have to listen quietly, and it creates a need for students to learn what the teacher is telling them about. When the students move on to independent activities, the study phase has set them up to move into their zone of proximal development. They use not only language that they are familiar with, but also language that is brand new to them. This balance makes both the teacher’s talk time and the students’ talk time productive. An ESA lesson creates opportunities for a teacher to perform all the functions that were mentioned in Unit 1 of this course. During study phases, the teacher can act as a manager/controller of the class and a model of correct language usage. During an activate stage, the teacher may act as a prompter, an organizer, a fellow participant in the activity, or as an observer or monitor. Both stages can give the teacher a chance to be an assessor, a tutor, and a resource/facilitator. Knowing the distinction between study stages and activate stages can help teachers to make their lessons engaging, varied, and helpful for students. Because it is associated with these benefits, I think it is a good idea for teachers to include these terms in their written lesson plans. I am still figuring out how much writing I will need to do before each lesson in order to feel confident and keep students on task. As a result of taking this course, I have decided that specified study stages and activate stages can serve as a minimum for what should be included in my written plans.