- Keywords:Elementary school, team-teaching, speaking practice, group practice
- Learner English level:Beginner
- Learner maturity level:Elementary (grades 5-6)
- Preparation time:None (provided vocabulary cards are available)
- Activity time:15 minutes
- Materials:Word cards with pictures
During 2007, I observedand analyzedEFLteam-teaching (Japanese EFL teacher plusnative EFL teacher assistant) classes at 21elementaryschools. During my observations, an instructional routine emerged which was independent of teacher and institution: (1) greeting; (2) vocabulary and pronunciation instruction followed by practice/modeling;(3) group game/activity; (4) brief review. I observed that in many elementary school EFL classrooms, inter-student English competency and confidence was often inconsistent. The following is an adaption of the most successful instructional method that I observed for overcoming students’inconsistenciesin communication-oriented elementary school team-teaching situations with mixed-level groups.
Step 1: Students are told that they will divide intotwo groups,one with the native-teacher(NT) and the otherwith the Japanese teacher(JT):the NT group will learn the content in an interactive fashion, whilethe JT group will learn the content in a “repeat-after-me” style, progress at a slower pace, and receiveexplanationin Japanese when necessary. Students may then choose which group to join.
Step 2a:The NT begins by briefly modeling the vocabulary or collocation and then proceeds to question the students as a group and individually to ascertain their understanding.
Step 3a:Once the NT group has displayed confidence with the new vocabulary or collocation,the cards, initially used by the NT for instruction and modeling, are handed out to the students and they move around asking each other questions,to which their cards are the response. For example,carrying a picture of a soccer ball, astudent asks apeer “What sports can you play?” and the peer looks at the card and says, “I can play soccer.”
Step 2b:In the JTgroup, the JT comprehensively instructs the students in the new vocabulary (meaning and pronunciation) through modeling and “repeat-after-me” tasks. Following considerable group practice in a given task, the JT may select one or more confident students to model the content with the JT in front of the class.
Step 3b:Students in the JT group are paired-up for practice while sitting down. After a few minutes of “safe” practice, the students are asked to stand up and make two lines facing each other. The students are asked to shake hands with their new partners and practice the target pattern. Following the completion of the exchange, the students are told to shift in a “conveyor-belt” fashion to a new partner and practice again. The shifting and practicing can be done until the students are confident with the new material.
Step 4:The two groups come back together. The NT and JT, as a pair, review and then model the content one more time before moving on to the day’s activityor group-game.
For some teachers, this task is perhaps a new and unorthodox approach to team-teaching. The underlying idea is that team-teaching does not necessarily entail two teachers teaching the same content, to the same group of students. Instead, to effectively meet the needs of the students’ competencies and varying levels of confidence, teaching two separate groups of students may be a more effective instructional approach. To continue to grow in effectiveness in its new environment (elementary schools),team-teachingneeds to remain flexible and responsive tolearners’ needs. The success I observed in the use of the above teaching technique,suggests that itmay be a more effective, flexible,and truly “team”-teaching approach.