I am teaching mostly lazy uninterested Thai teenagers as stated before (cannot log in under old user name).
I used to start a class by talking a little bit in English and Thai but about 8 out of 36 were actually listening.
I now have vocabulary taken from their textbook, I have my wife translate it into Thai. I walk into the class and don’t even address them and write the vocabulary on the blackboard. I tell them to write it. I give the page of English with Thai translation to the most competent student.
When they have written the vocabulary of the lesson (e.g, shopping) I go through each word 5 or 6 times to get them to pronounce it correctly. I then ask my assistant to say the Thai word and they note the translation in Thai (If they care enough). I then have a dialogue that contains some of the words (e.g, based on going shopping.) I repeat it 2 or 3 times then ask them to say it collectively.
Pairing off would be a futile exercise as they would only talk and joke with each other so I call 2 students to the front of the class and they must speak the dialogue from the board. It is incredibly mixed and the girls and some bys are pretty spot on and speak well. Unfortunately most boys do not listen and cannot say the most basic English words and look to the class and laugh.
I use this formula every week. I would be interest to hear from others that have difficult teenagers or indeed what your normal plan is.
19 September, 2008 at 10:26
Total posts: 13
Reply To: Am I doing it right?
Wow, it seems like a really difficult situation. But I would suggest that by making it as controlled as you do you are potentially making it more boring, and setting yourself up for a negative feedback loop.
Here are a few random suggestions based on what you’ve written about your lesson:
1. How about choral drills? So have left half of class the shopkeeper, right half the customer. It is more engaging than 2 Ss at the front, and everyone has the chance to practice.
2. Any way to avoid the translation? Again, this is really lowering the challenge level and therefore the potential for interest / engagement. If you set up a clear context, you can help convey the menaing without need of direct translation. So, e.g., draw a picture of a little shop, bring in some empty cans of cola or something, and act out the simple dialogue with your Thai assistant. The acting / contextualization makes the meaning clear.
3. What about eliciting / finding out what they know? So instead of just writing your new words on the board, you first ask them… e.g., topic is "shop", you write cola, newspaper, ask them to suggest "What else is in the corner shop?"… only after seeing their ideas do you then add your own… again, pictures or other ways to contextualize your new vocab rather than direct Thai translation.
4. Boys laughing… is there no way to get your Thai assistant to be the "heavy"? So if everyone participates in English no problem, but if people want to be jerks your Thai assistant jumps down their throats, berating and threatening them in Thai? Might provide some motivation to go along with the lesson, or at least not be so disruptive to those who are taking part…
I remember my first job teaching Polish teenagers in a Technical High School… My heart goes out to you, good luck!