FIRST LESSON


FIRST LESSON

 

MATERIALS

 

·       THE COURSE BOOK

 

We focus on the Student’s Book. To do a unit takes about 9 sessions over 9 days. If you think you need to cover the workbook, please do it on your own. We leave out the workbook because all the supplements we have are able to provide enough practice and practice relevant to the exams. All the curriculum items are covered in the Student’s Book.

 

·       THE LISTENING BOOK

 

The listening book is of high quality and we use the book and the accompanying cassette tapes for evening listening practice every other evening – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each listening session lasts about 20 minutes. After you choose your answers, check them and read the scripts. Last semester some of you told me that there were all kinds of jewels in the scripts.

 

·       THE COMPANION TO THE COURSE BOOK

 

The companion to the course book is a comprehensive coaching book. We use it in step with the course book. We have learning aids and tests in the book. There are notes on difficult and key points that occur in the texts, exercises focused on an item and a test at the end of a unit. We will use the book along with the daily lessons.

 

·       THE PMP

 

 The PMP (Practice Makes Perfect) will see us through the semester. We teachers write the exercises to help you accumulate on a daily basis. Still one loose leaf a day takes you about 20 minutes. Learning English is a slow and constant process. The PMP helps you learn a bit a day and learn every day.

 

·       THE ENGLISH WEEKLY

 

We use the language coaching paper for the tests. This paper is cheap and good, with very few errors. The tests are well written and the difficulty level is well controlled. We have been using the paper for years and it has proved student-friendly and teacher-friendly as well.

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU HAVE READY FOR THE NEW SEMESTER?

 

·       NOTEBOOK A

 

The role of a notebook is to help you organise your learning. Listening to the teacher is one way of learning. When you take notes, you are using your mind and your hand simultaneously. Note-taking is a combination of physical and mental processes. It is well-known that science is built upon organised knowledge. Creativity has to find its foundation on organised knowledge. I hope through taking notes you will be able to better understand all aspects of the language – its vocabulary, grammar and all the bits beyond vocab and grammar.

 

·       NOTEBOOK B

 

The role of Notebook B is to help you learn from your mistakes. Probably you have had an experience like this: the same mistake is repeated. A repeated mistake is worth noting and it is where you should work harder and grasp the essence of the item. Learning is a process of making mistakes and correcting them. This is especially true in today’s education system, which is heavily oriented towards exams and grades.

 

·       JOURNAL

 

One of my former students inspired me to keep up with the journal programme. I taught her English for two years. I read what she wrote in English and commented on her entry. Then she went to college and majored in psychology. We were in correspondence in English in her college years. She mentioned in one letter that even at college she still carried the journal with her and reading the past entries and comments was a pleasure.

 

What an inspiration! The idea of keeping a journal dates back to the summer of 1999, when I met an American teacher, Ms. Olivia Pugh. She started a journal programme among the students. And I found it was a wonderful way to experiment with the language in the journal. Most of us do not speak English in a natural environment in China and a journal makes a genuine language environment, where you write and your teacher reads.

 

I have been enjoying reading your journals for the past year and I hope you do it whole-heartedly and take the programme as seriously as ever. Reading your journal is an important channel through which we understand each other. I know all of you very well largely because of the communication the journal facilitates.

 

·       AN MP3 PLAYER OR A WALKMAN

 

I would like all of you to have a portable listening device, preferably an MP3 player. A cassette player works too. But a digital player is much handier.

 

Today’s language learners are in heaven compared with those even a decade ago. The digital technology has kind of revolutionised language learning. I am sorry that for your workload in Chinese high school, most of you cannot take full advantage of the technology. You will realise how powerful the technology is when you have more time to explore it.

 

However, an MP3 player is cheap and cute. Get one and find suitable audio files and enjoy your listening on it. I can stuff your player with those audio files you like. When you are tired of regular homework or before you go to sleep, have a listen. Such listening will only make your learning more enjoyable. It is not a waste of time, as your other teachers might think.

 

ROUTINES

 

The above two sections have already covered some of the routines. I would like to highlight the following points.

 

·       READING ALOUD

 

In the self-study session before breakfast it is time for reading aloud your texts. This semester I will not ask you to recite a paragraph or two. Instead I will hear you read the texts and watch the way you pronounce. Practise your pronunciation hard and improve it through reading aloud. If you still find memorising a text useful, stick to it. But I will not check it.

 

·       SMALL TALK

 

The small talk will continue but the time will be shortened to five minutes each session, a speaker a day. You may speak on a topic or you may ask ten questions. Put your questions to individuals rather than to the whole class. Your small talk should focus on our daily life. I hope you show an interest in people and things around you in your talk.

 

·       THE DICTATION

 

At the end of a unit, I will give you a dictation of ten words and expressions covered in the unit. I will check it and you are supposed to correct your misspellings.

 

·       THE TEST

At the end of a unit, there is a full standard test. 2 hours is spent on a test and the paper will be graded and results announced in a table.

 

·       THE PMP

 

I will check your daily PMP this way. Some of you will have to hand over your PMP daily. Who will, you might wonder.

 

I have put your past exam results together and worked out your average performance. On the grade form, each of you has a place corresponding to your grade. I have chosen the last 20 from the class and these 20 shall hand over the daily PMP to me. A leader will be picked from the 20 to help me collect and hand out the loose leaves.

 

Does it mean that if you are not asked to hand in your PMP, you can use the paper in the toilet? No, dear. Everybody is expected to finish the work daily and check your answers even if I do not have your work collected.

 

·       THE JOURNAL

 

Please keep in mind that the journal is to be handed in by 6 pm Friday. Try to meet the deadline. My assistant will remind you before it is due.

 

·       OFFICE HOURS

 

Every day I am available in my office 5 through 6 pm for your visits. If you need my help, welcome to my office. This semester your classroom is much closer to my office. A lucky thing, I bet. It will be more convenient for our talk.

 

·       MY ASSISTANTS

 

We should respect all the teacher assistants. They take the time to serve us. They function as a link between you and your teacher. It is no easy job and there is no pay for it. To be honest, many would not do the job for in their opinion it would be a waste of time to shuttle between the office and the classroom, and to collect assignments from you. Please show your respect for them, our lovely assistants. I would like to thank them for all they have done and all they will be doing.

 

Just think about what they do – play the audio on the cassette player, collect the work, and carry the heavy books to and from the office. Lots of sweat!

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