Teaching English as a second language

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If possible, the scene given to each group is different so that each group can act out their section for the rest of the class. (Wheeler: 1997) Furthermore, the scene chosen should involve more character so that more students can participate. After a few minutes preparation, or even instantly, students have to “get into role”. In their performance, students should pay attention to the words used, their actions, gestures and facial expressions because all these contribute a lot to their success. The rationale for improvisation is that it provides a close approximation of real life communication.

It also offers one of the few chances we have in the classroom to explore implied, as well as overt meaning. (Mahoney: 1997) In Hong Kong, students used to use English in a controlled and familiar way, such as standing up to answer a pre-prepared question in a textbook. Improvisation provides them an opportunity to response spontaneous, linguistic or non-linguistic, which is very common in real communication. In addition, as the language is not scripted in any way, students have to rely on their knowledge of the events and relationships between characters in their performance. 3. Studying Characters (Reading)

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Chapters 7 and 8 of the book “Matilda” contain lots of description on Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull. Teacher can ask students to read the chapters and underline the phrases describing Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull. A worksheet (in appendix P. 11-13) will then be distributed to students. In the worksheet, students are asked to fill in the boxes describing Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull. For Miss Honey, the focus will be on her physical outlook Students have to fill in the boxes of “age”, “face”, “eyes”, “hair” and “body”. The description of Miss Trunchbull is more detailed. In the worksheet, students have to fill in the boxes of

“character”, “sounds”, “moves”, “face”, and “figure” and “clothing”. In the second part of the worksheet, students are asked to draw two pictures of Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull. For Miss Trunchbull one, several labels which describe her cloths are provided. Students are expected to cut and stick these labels on the picture of Miss Trunchbull. The purpose of this activity is to train up students’ reading skills, especially searching specific information from a text. They have to identify which information is useful, which is not. They also learn different adjective and phrases to describe various aspects of a person, e. g.

hair, eyes, face, body shape, clothing etc. Moreover, the drawing tasks involve students’ imagination and creativity. 4. Creative Writing In this task, students are asked to imagine they are inspectors from the government. They have just visited Crunchem Hall Primary School and now they have to write a report on it. The report format (in appendix P. 14) will be provided to students so that they have more guidance. The report should include their observation in schools, e. g. students’ behaviours, staff’s manners, how teachers taught different subjects, general impression of the school and their comments on the school etc.

Some of their ideas may come from the storybook; some may come from students’ imagination. Pair-work is preferable in this task so that students can share and exchange ideas with each other. When all the students finish their work, teachers may collect all their writing and bind them into a booklet and then distribute to students. The underlying principle of this task is Language Experience Approach (LEA). In this approach, learners create their own reading materials on the basis of the experiences they have and expressed through the language they possess.

As in this task, students adopt information from the story and their own experiences in school to write the report. They also have to negotiate and construct the meaning with their groupmates in the task. In short, students are actively involved in the process. Publication of students’ writing has an absolutely high value. Children’s excitement and delight are measureless when they hold their books in their hands and read their friends’ and their own writing in print. (Armour: 1994) Conclusion In this essay, I have explored the values of adolescent literature and language arts activities in teaching English as a second language.

Its authentic features not only motivate students in learning English, but also make the learning process more enjoyable. Students are also encouraged to express their personal feelings and emotions which fit in with the experimental dimension of the Target Oriented Curriculum. As Hong Kong education system has always been criticized as teacher-centered, textbook-based and examination-driven, the implementation of literature in language classroom can make language teaching more student-centered, skilled-based and capacity building. Reference Armour, M. W. (1994).

Poetry, the magic language: children learn to read and write it. Englewood: Teacher Ideas Press Cooper, R. , Lavery, M & Rinvolucri, M. , (1991). Video. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mahoney, D. (1997) Drama in the classroom. In P. Falvey & P. Kennedy, (eds. ), Learning language through literature: a source book for teachers of English in Hong Kong (pp. 117-133). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. Murphy, M, (1997) Making textbook language more literary. In P. Falvey & P. Kennedy, (eds. ), Learning language through literature: a source book for teachers of English in Hong Kong (pp.

85-92). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. Wheeler, J. M. (1997). The role of literature in language classroom. In Mok, A (1997) (ed. ) English language enrichment programme resource book. (pp. 9-20) Hong Kong: INSTEP Appendix I Summary of the story “Matilda” Matilda is an exceptionally bright young girl with insatiable appetite for books and reading. However, her parents Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood think that she is just a nuisance. They spend most of their time on watching television and making money by cheating people. Matilda decides to punish them with various tricks.

She soon discovers that she has supernatural powers which are not only going prove to be useful at home but also at Crunchem Hall which is ruthlessly ruled by principal Agatha Trunchbull, a hulking woman as awful as her name. Matilda’s fortune turns when her first grade teacher Miss Honey begins to believe in her extraordinary powers. By using her supernatural powers, she can make troubles for the monstrous grown-ups in her life. Finally, her unusual powers free Matilda from her family and the oppressed people in her world. 2


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