March 2, 2013 by k. liz
I give private lessons on the weekends, and I sometimes really struggle to find good, creative ideas that will work well with individual young learners. I have come across a few recently that I have really enjoyed using, so I thought I would share them with you!
1. Storybird: I have been reading recently about the concept of learning through writing. This is a great site for generating stories because there is a huge library of artwork to stimulate ideas, and the layout of the book looks very professional. It is very easy to use, and the students seem to really like it. The one thing I don’t like about it is that it is not easy to get a tangible copy of the work for the student to hold. I have used jing to copy their sentences so that we could edit together on paper, which works okay. The other thing (though this is just the crazy perfectionist side of me!) is that the artwork is beautiful, but sometimes they pull up so many that students just pick the pictures that they like, and not ones that make a coherent story. So, that means that I need to go back to the beginning of story-writing I guess. (Another good alternative to using Storybird is to print out a comic strip and have them fill in the dialogue bubbles. I think that this tends to lead towards a more coherent story line, if you find your students struggling with that.)
2. Video Response: My students know each other outside of my lessons (we all live in the same complex.) So, today all of my students watched the Kids React to Husky Dog Talking. (SIDE NOTE: This is an awesome channel to check out for private lessons, both with young learners and teen/adult learners. They have reactions to many pop culture items, and there are different age ranges.) After we watched, I recorded my students answering similar questions to the questions asked in the video. Then, I clipped and put it together in a similar fashion to the original Youtube video. I hope to show it to my students when they come next week and see their responses. Regardless, this is a good way to set up some good questions and answers as the topics are interesting, and the video gives a lot of good input.
3. Video Dictation: I have really enjoyed doing this with my pre-intermediate/intermediate students. I found a short animation, called Shoe, on Youtube. I played it for my student with no sound, and I had him dictate what was happening. As he was speaking, I typed every word he said as he said it. Once he finished, I printed his document and we watched the film again with the sound this time. I found that the second time through, more things became clear that he hadn’t understand the first time around. Then, after he watched again, we worked through his document together, noting what things were correct and where there were grammar or vocabulary problems. (SIDE NOTE: I did let him say a few words in Turkish, I transcribed them, and then we looked them up together afterwards.) His homework activity after this lesson was to go home and re-write his paragraph correcting the errors. I really liked this activity because I feel like it uses both productive skills to sharpen each other and to further the student’s language competence.
*Variation: Another variation I did on this activity was to open jing (though I must say that I wasn’t happy with it after the fact, because the file was so large that I found it very difficult to work with.) I think that there is probably a better solution.) I opened another youtube video, this time about dog diving, and I had my student pretend to be the commentator of the dog diving event. I recorded the video with my student’s voiceover. It was really a positive experience, and I know that my student really enjoyed it. Doing the activity this way does not incorporate writing, but it does still naturally record speech to evaluate then after the activity is over.