Saturday, March 5, 2011

Third week with Kanda


In week two our students studied education in the U.S. They visited two schools, a high school on Monday and a middle school on Wednesday. On Friday, for our site visit, we took the students to Monterey Peninsula College. The idea was to have them mix with other students and ask them questions. However, most of the campus was closed down on Friday and there were very few students on class. During the week, I noticed that my students were motivated to speak with native and non-native speakers in public, but in class they their WTC was very low and I returned to the old habit of talking to much when the students should be doing the talking. Also, I felt that my lesson planning really suffered because I didn't have enough time to prepare more interesting activities involving native speakers. For example, on Wednesday, I had students do a discourse completion activity in which they asked people on campus what they would say in a given social situation. For the students with high ability, this activity didn't seem to interest them much and my feeling was that they felt it was busy work, while the lower level students may not have understood the task. I thought the activity might have been better if the students choose the discourse completion task, but part of me is afraid that in doing so, I give up too much control, but I have to remember van Lier (2010) in which he states that scaffolding is only effective when it involves the learner's sense of agency and autonomy. When learners feel that they the task is taking them to new ground and they feel they have some investment in seeing where the learning takes them, then the scaffolding creates higher motivation and learning proceeds development.

This week, I began by trying to scaffold the tasks so students will have more classroom interaction time before going out. James and I decided that the second part of the fourth week should be devoted to the students' final projects, so we are combining the third and fourth weeks' activities. For our site visit this week, we had students visit Whole Foods to create an original menu. By giving students a mini project to accomplish, I hoped that the higher level students would be able to take the reins of their project and make the most of it, while the lower level students would find ways to contribute. On Wednesday, I assigned students into groups to prepare for the project and we visited the local library where they looked up recipes.

For the sake of brevity, I will quickly outline the lessons from Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then give a general reflections on the events.


On Monday, I began the class by asking students to discuss what sports or activities they participated in Junior High School. Then I had the students play a vocabulary game in which the students were given a worksheet with different slang words and played charades in order to guess the word. Then I had the students watch a video of different extreme sports in the U.S. Next we read about places around Monterey where people could learn different outdoor activities such as scuba diving, hiking, and Zumba. The students discussed these in groups and then using a worksheet, they went to different locations near the school to gather more information. However, some places were not open or didn't actually have the activity located at the store so I had to modify those activities.

We began the lesson with a short conversation about what the students typically eat or cook during their stay. We took a short tour of the garden, and then came back to the classroom. I then loaded a the beginning of "Super Size Me." Then I asked the students to discuss in pairs if they believed people or the restaurant is responsible for people gaining weight and finalized with s a short class discussion. Then I explained the menu project in which the students were going to build a healthy, tasty, cheap, and attractive menu. I showed them another clip of Hell's Kitchen to demonstrate how menus could be brainstormed in groups and that "Chef Ramsey" would come and critique their menu. We then walked to the Monterey library where the students spent an hour planing their resume with the help of a rubric that I gave them.

Friday James and my classes met at the transit plaza. We took the students to Whole Foods where they were given a tour of the store. It was so crowded and fast that I couldn't notice if the students were engaged or asking questions. However, they did eat a lot and took their time exploring the different foods. Some students reported later that they did indeed ask some questions. When the tour was over and the students finished researching their menu, they were free to go. James left before I did.

The week began pretty awful as the students didn't understand the slang vocabulary game and the outing to the stores went bad as some stores were close. Also, there was almost no volunteer talking in English and I could that student discussions soon slipped into Japanese between and during activities. Wednesday was much better. I began the class by taking the students outside and during class, even though I talked a lot, I felt the students were much more engaged in the activities. I think the difference was having something to work towards instead of just going through unrelated activities. Friday, the students enjoyed the walk through Whole Foods, but I noticed that some students just were not into it and I feared that they totally lost any investment in learning English. I began to think that students who experience an immersion context and don't feel like their personality or that their hard work slip from being influenced by the L2 Self to the Ought Self, which is much like being motivated by intrinsic factors and external factors. I can see now why Yashima deployed her L2 self questionnaire along those lines although I still feel that they are two different conceptions of motivation. I'd like to track two students who I feel have low WTC and low L2 self and see if I am right.

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