First of all, I love that song by Eels. Second, we have some birds nesting in our garden! We installed a little nesting box on one of the walls of our garden shed two years ago. Nothing seemed to happen there, as a pair of great tits who like to hang out in our garden actually tried to build a nest in our roof instead by pecking a hole into it – which we quickly put a stop to. They were rather upset when we closed the hole in the roof, but seemed to have gotten the memo. This year they decided to nest in the nesting box instead. They keep flying in and out, first with nesting material, and now that the little ones have hatched with worms and other goodies. We try and be good neighbours; we were doing a bit of gardening on and around the back patio when my husband noticed one of the tits sitting in a neighbour’s tree with a worm in its beak, waiting for us to leave. So we went back to the front patio, the tit delivered the worm to its little ones and flew off again. Back we went to the back patio and this pattern kept repeating itself the entire afternoon. I quite like how many birds live in our neighbourhood, and how they like to nest here. Our neighbours have a pair of blackbirds nesting in their ivy. I wonder if they’re the same as the blackbirds we see in our garden every day. The lady who lived in our house before we bought it used to feed them, so they’re quite bold and come up to us every now and again (looking for food of course). I wonder when the little ones will make their first appearance!
I teach remedial grammar, and it keeps surprising me what kind of mistakes students make. English shouldn’t be too hard for them, as it is related to their native language. But it seems as soon as L2 (a foreign language) is involved, common sense and everything they’ve learned flies out of the window never to return. It’s also a challenge when teaching, because if you mention the basics they need to know they treat you as if you just insulted their intelligence, and then proceed to make exactly those mistakes over and over again at the exam. I attended a lecture about new ways to teach grammar at the IATEFL conference a while back, and I hope I will get some development time next year to see what I can change in my syllabus to make my grammar teaching more effective. I really hope I can attend this conference again in the future, because it’s really helped me move past some issues I’d been experiencing. Let’s hope the grammar problem will be resolved as well!
Last week the new course I have been developing over the past few months finally started. I put so many hours of hard work into this, and couldn’t really predict how my students would react to this brand new topic in their curriculum. But lo and behold, they took to the subject immediately and had fun discussing the questions I had prepared.
What pleasantly surprised me were two things: first, I had prepared a mini-lecture in the middle of the lesson, and told the students they wouldn’t get this information in any other way, so they needed to take notes. I explained they could ask questions during the mini-lecture, so they could ask for immediate clarification. My students are the worst note-takers normally, but during the IATEFL conference I had attended a workshop that showed us students are able to put in quite a lot of work if you make it very overt what they need to do. So I started by telling them to start up note-taking software or get pen and paper… and the strategy worked! They were very quiet during my explanation, asked good questions, and I tried to help them as much as possible by allowing ample time for taking notes, and made sure to provide relevant examples. Second, a student who disrupts almost every class he is in again showed a lot of resistance at the start of my class. But at certain point even he got involved in the discussions. He took notes, was quiet during the mini-lecture and his behaviour improved during class. I am almost always willing to give students a second chance, and I’m glad he wants to get involved.
Let’s hope the other classes will be as successful as this first one!