As usual, I spent my morning at school with my students. It is the beginning of a new term for them, but for me – it is the last lesson this week. Telling the truth, I am happy to have three-weeks holiday. It would be enough to refresh my head and relax for the last several months I had nothing to do, but study and study and work. Sometimes, I seem strange even to myself. I advise people to do this or that, not to do this or that, but the same advise doesn’t work with me. I write posts about paying more attention to the friends and relatives, but if it comes to me – then I find out that I haven’t seen my family, relatives and most of my friends more than a half year. How can I write about the things I am doing myself? I thought. So decided to make last breath before going with my over have-nothing-to-do-but-relax-and-enjoy condition.

Instead, I have found out that my students still cannot switch from spring holidays back to the lessons. They also seem to need even more time for rest. This is what brought me to this idea.

Right now we have the theme of superheroes and on the last lesson we began writing our own comics book. About superheros. We do really plan to have some of them published so that even other students and even teachers can take and read them. The students were eager to start their book. Though, firstly, they hesitated a bit, I guess, they thought how comics and the English lesson could be combined. That’s why they listened to my further instructions and kept silence for a few seconds. Further, I said that it would be accomplished in the internet. I could notice their desire to start as soon as possible. There is a website in the internet, where you can create your own comics book and download it. It is called Superherosquad. Sometimes, there are topics impossible to talk about seriously. In such cases a teacher can use different entertaining sites as a.m.one. It would be more useful and appropriate for teaching if to ask the students to use new vocabulary, new grammar rule and so on. I showed my comics book idea in order to get them more interested in the lesson.

Comics

So the next time I’ll see how they managed to create their work – “Masterpiece”, as one of my students said “We want it to be our masterpiece”.

Today, we have already watched one of those works. As we had only one book ready and still had some time I asked students to reflect on what they have seen. The students were asked to write:

  • what they liked
  • what they disliked
  • what they might change

As a result, I had so many ideas about the book and even some possible continuations. Nevertheless, there are some other comics books the students will present in the next lesson. On my part, I want to say, it doesn’t matter what use in your lessons, the most important thing is whether students are learning from your lessons or not. Even other teachers have no right to judge your teaching style. Just a few days ago, a teachers from the same school, with 30 years of teaching background, told us, her colleagues, a very interesting case happened to her. She organized her English lesson through the method of applique. Giving instructions to the students in English and making them to draw and cut and cut, she taught them vocabulary. Unfortunately, the headmaster, who was watching the duration of the lesson, disliked it and criticized the teacher’s approach in front of the other teachers so that making them understand that such methods of teaching were not welcomed at school. If she only knew, she was wrong!

Right now, we manage our lessons in quite unusual ways, we walk around during the lesson, we create comics books, we sing a song, we dance, we have field trips and so on. There is no correct approach to teaching, but one a teacher considers right.

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As I have said before if you are a devoted teacher information resources will come to you themselves. It is what that happens in our PDP classes. As we have experienced guests, they try want to help us with our lessons. They always share what they do with us and are always open to help with computer devices. And it is very helpful I should admit.

Moreover Our guests are willing to help us in solving teaching problems. For instance, yesterday we had Chad as a guest speaker. Chad gave us so much information about teaching, languages and the way dealing with the problems. Yesterday he supplied us with more useful URLs and videos. I have watched and observed all his links and found them useful. Especially, the videos in youtube.com can be very useful for primary school teachers. Those videos introduce us with real-english.com and help to use their videos in English lessons. I watched the videos on introducing yourself and others and spelling the names, on Present Prefect Tense. Teachers can either show them to the students or make them listen to them. Of course, Chad, as a modern teacher, helped us to solve our potential problem. The school, where I teach right now, has UserGate on the computers and that’s why we cannot show online videos. To deal with it, Chad showed us a way to download videos. Though I know several ways of downloading videos from the internet, I have never worked with http://zamzar.com/url.  It is not only a means of video downloading, it also converts them into different formats.  The same I can say about MPEG StreamClip, another way of video downloading. Like zamzar.com it has an option to convert into MP4 or FLV. You should only choose what your computer opens.

Also in MPEG Stream Clip you can watch “how to make youtube videos load faster”. I think that Real English videos can also be used to learn English independently. I want to thank my teacher and our guest speakers for contribution to the development of the educational system in Kazakhstan.

When I studied at the institute and didn’t talk so much to foreigners, because there were a few of them. However, I am glad I have Teaching Listening and Speaking lessons at the university I study right now. And usually we have quest speakers invited by our teacher. It helps you to adapt to English that our quests speak. Constancy of such activities influentially improve your language comprehension.

Today we had an American quest, Chad,  who speaks Kazakh very well.  It is clear that Chad is a good teacher. He is modern, positive and open to students’ opinions. It was a pleasure for me to talk to him, he has charisma. When we introduced ourselves, Chad tried to remember our names by heart. After each introduction he pronounced our names, so he could remember us. While getting introduced he had a little chat with us, and during the conversation he called us by our names. That was his way to find a common language with people. Nothing sounds better for a person than his name. Imagine how you get happy when someone knows your name. Your answer will be: “Oh, you remembered me”.
Chad is sociable and you needn’t to try to say something to make him speak. On the contrary, he shared his life experiences with us and tried to get all of us free and comfortable. He didn’t ask to stop him in case we do not understand him. It shows he was sure he will find a way to our flow of ideas. The fact that he has a family of teachers surprised me, it is ok to have a family of engineers, businessmen, lawyers or something like those. I remember how my teacher used to tell me not to choose a profession of a teacher. She was tired of teaching, and it is clear she won’t let her child to be a teacher. Chad’s family is a devoted teacher family and the fact that he moved from his business to teaching can be explained as “a call of blood”.
Earlier I met Chad’s littles and didn’t even think that they might be studying in Kazakh schools. I think the teachers must be happy to have students like Chad’s children. I don’t know whether you experienced it or not, but it is a great pleasure to speak to little Americans. I do really like it. They are so sweet.
However, the most important thing I liked about Chad is the knowledge of Kazakh. His Kazakh is very good, I am saying not as a Kazakh,who is happy to see American speaking my native language, but as a person, who do really appreciate his knowledge. I watched the way he spoke Kazakh, and I admit that his Kazakh is perfect.
In an hour conversation, we felt so easy and relaxed that we didn’t notice the time passed. However, it is the usual thing that happen to us when we have a quest speaker invited.)))
Thanks to Chad for coming. I found out many interesting things from Chad’s talk.  The same day one of my colleagues introduced me with http://www.esl-lab.com. I found there the topic of my interest – study abroad. Randall ESL Cyber is a lab that links you with different useful websites on teaching. You can find what you need for the lesson. Teaching is very important part of the society, and internet is a good way to share your teaching ideas and find more new ones. I wonder how people handle their lessons without internet. They should do everything themselves. They have no internet to help them, no other things to motivate students. In a globalizing world what except a computer can motivate students to learn?! There are many URLs on teaching that we may not know about and I want to ask all teachers to share what we have with each other. I think everyone has noticed that there are a few ( even no) Kazakhstani websites on teaching. Isn’t it another factor to develop through sharing and learning from western teaching that keeps up helping us?!

This week I am totally in teaching. I have from two up to five lessons a day. And it seems to be interesting day by day. On the first day of teaching I was afraid, I don’t know what I was afraid of, but I could feel a presence of fear. The next day the half of my fear vanished and I felt myself more comfortable in the classroom compared with the first day. On the third day I began gaining confidence in organization of my lessons. As my supervisor told me I tried to do everything to make students like my lesson. Perhaps, it was good that my teacher went to London and gave me leeway in lesson organization. I am happy there is nobody to control me. Otherwise, as I was taught in the institute I will try to be liked by a teacher first, and then by students. I think the most important thing for a teacher should be her students’ assessment. If they like your lesson, what can be more rewarding? The more I teach students, the more I realize that students are more important for me than any other teachers. If students like your lesson, they will thank you. If teachers like your lesson, they will criticize you. Each time students say “Thank you for the lesson” I feel cheerful and happy.

I remember last week I taught one teacher’s class – the eleventh grade. Again I was afraid, because the eleventh grade students are only 3 years junior me. I thought they won’t treat me seriously, in addition, they knew that I was to teach only one day. Instead I found students to be friendly. I was glad, and when the lesson was over, students asked me whether I would teach them always. I said no. They were disappointed, but I was glad. So in the end one of the boys said “You are always welcome in our class”.

What I like about my students is their English. They speak English well, and it is interesting to handle different activities with them. Whatever task you give them, they accomplish it with a lot of fantasy and fun. Below you can the members of an advertising agency trying to cooperate with a company, that makes shoes. Here students explain their advertisement of trainers to the company.

Later we watched online advertisement and discussed it with each other. Students told about their likes and dislikes to each other.

Today we had adjectives of emotions. First I did drag-and-drop exercise with them, and then we did guess-it activity. By the way, you can go to visualesl.com to find more drag-and-drop exercises.

Here students are guessing what their classmate tries to say.

I think teaching always requires self-education. Students I teach right now are very strong, so I need to have extra activities ready for them in case they have free time. I want my students to be honest with me, because if they won’t understand me, it means that I fail the lesson. Now I am looking forward to find many interesting activities to do in English, so if you have any examples, I will be very glad to try them with my hard-to-crack students.

I am glad we are learning more and more about different kinds of things to teach our students. And one of such useful teaching devices is Jazz chants. I have never heard about it before. Perhaps, it is because I was taught English in old and very traditional ways: drilling and translating. We never used to use jazz chants in our classroom. There were times when our teacher taught us “May there always be sunshine”, “If you are happy”, and “What is your name”. These are all songs I knew from my school English. I remember, once we sang the very first song in three languages and the pupils from other classes asked us to teach them that song in English. Children wanted to sing in English, but what they had to do if there was nobody to teach them.
And now, I am glad that teachers in Kazakhstan do not try to keep that very old and bored way of language teaching. Being at school practice at NIS, I am learning a lot about modern methods of teaching. I used to be in practice at schools in Aktobe, but NIS differs from them totally. It is good to be able to use everything you learn in your own classroom. Actually, my supervisor at NIS is open to learn many things from me as well.
As for the jazz chants, I think it is good to use them with what you want, it might be vocabulary, grammar, etc. If you teach jazz chants with pleasure, students will get interested in it and they will do chanting in every day life. Through jazz chanting they will be able to use simple words, phrases, and even sentences in communication. And, on the other hand, jazz chants are very easy to remember!
To be open and self-develop are the most important qualities of a successful teacher. Yesterday we had a quest and she told about various problems at schools. All of our teachers know about those problems, but they either do not know how to get the lessons improved or they are too weak to get away from the old techniques of their teaching. That’s what occurs in our classrooms, but I hope young and competent teachers will do their best to raise the quality of education at schools.
As a matter of fact, we are “the products” of that teaching. And I do not wish my children to be taught in the way I was. Perhaps, the fact that we were taught in a traditional way, through Soviet books (even in the century of being independent) will help us to make the change. Now, I found a reason I didn’t want to work at school. I didn’t see the potential power of it! I did realize that teaching can be really fun.

Yesterday our PDP teacher showed us an example of a jazz chant. It was fun to sing. The constant repetition of the words doesn’t get pupils bored, on the contrary, they will have a lot of fun with it. That was the jazz chant we practiced yesterday.

Selfish

This is mine!

That’s yours!

Don’t_touch mine!

Get_your_own!

This is mine!

That’s yours!

This is mine!

That’s yours!

This is mine!

That’s_yours!

That’s_yours!

That’s yours!

Hey, what are you doing?

What are you doing with that?

That’s mine!

Hey, what are you doing?

What are you doing with_that?

That’s his!

Hey, what are you doing?

What are you doing with that?

That’s hers!

What’s mine is mine.

What’s_yours is_yours.

What’s his is his.

What’s_hers is_hers.

What’s ours is ours.

What’s theirs is theirs.

Sometimes, students have so many difficulties with pronouns. If they drill the pronouns trying to learn them by heart, it MIGHT work; but if they sing them, it WILL work! So, isn’t it a nice way to teach them English?! Dear, teachers, get off of the gray colors in your classrooms, make your lessons brighter and more exciting.

Searching for the topic that relates to my research theme I encountered with Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on Ted.com. “Schools kill creativity” by Robinson made a great impression on me and I simply decided to listen to his talk “Bring on the learning revolution” whether it is pertinent to my research or not. What I like about Ken Robinson is the way of presenting a subject to the public. His manner of speech is discerning and always interesting. Mr. Robinson knows how to sustain the listener’s interest till the end of the speech.

Actually, “Bring on the learning revolution” does relate to my research of international exchange for foreign education is also an essential part of that revolution Ken talks about. In his talk Ken touches upon the problem of human resources, precisely the crisis of human resources. All people have inner talents, some of them succeed in revealing their talent to life, others, however, keep them deep inside mostly with no idea about them. Accordingly, people either enjoy what they do or endure. I remember my school teacher, who ‘begged’ me not to be a teacher at all. Actually, I didn’t feel I wanted to be a teacher, but I had a passion for English. And now 7 years later I feel no regret for being a teacher, because I am a teacher of English. On the contrary, I am grateful to the English language: I got my Bachelor Degree, I study at the most prestigious University of my country and I have a possibility to study abroad for my Master’s Degree.

However, Robinson’s speech made me think about my inner talents. I might be an architect, a sportswoman or somebody else, who knows?! It is true that “you cannot predict the outcome of human development; all you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”  Ken encourages to customize to the circumstances, and personalize education to the people we’re actually teaching. To do it we need to pay our attention to the quality of education. It is the problem we try to solve today.  With all due deference to Kazakhstan, I admit that the quality of our education still leaves much to be desired. The opening of Nazarbayev University is a courageous step to make a revolution in our education. However, it is not enough, that’s why we should co-operate with our foreign partners. And here the importance of foreign education crops up. Deferring to foreign experience we can build our educational system. I am glad that Kazakhstan offers its students opportunities for foreign education. I am glad we have Bolashak, Muskie, Fulbright and other programs that conduce to get developed countries’ experience. I am glad we have many foreign professionals contributing to the development of our republic.

As a matter of fact, today we have close co-operation with American speakers: Marinka Franulovic, Harold Samuels, Ann from Cambridge University. The next semester we will have other quests as well. To my mind, such kind of co-operations are important for self-improvement. It makes a great sense to our lessons and I hope that the same will feel our students in future. Through native speakers we can raise their passion for the English language.

In conclusion, I want to say that if a person has a passion he will achieve everything he wishes. It is not a matter of what your parents say or your teachers advise, but what you are passionate for. Nobody knows you better as you yourself do. Bring on the learning revolution! Begin it from yourself! From your students!