- Key words:Writing, reading, phonics, international awareness, on-going method
- Learner English level:Beginner
- Learner maturity:Grade 5 Elementary School and up
- Preparation time:15 minutes per class
- Activity time:45-minute class, unlimited times
- Materials:Construction paper, a color photo of each student, world map, country-specific realia such as drums, shells, music, videos, money, clothing, etc.
The PET Program (Passport English Teaching) is an on-going method I used for two years to teach writing, reading, and phonics in Elementary School, wherein 'visits' to various countries motivated students to read, write and speak English like playing with their favorite pet.
Step 1:Make a mock passport to introduce the PET Program.
Step 2:Print a color photo of each student (the homeroom teacher should assist with this task).
Step 3:Pre-cut blue construction paper for the outside, white paper for the inside, and three templates for each student's passport:
- The word “Passport” for the cover.
- A template with "Name:____ Birthday: _____ Age:____ " for the inside page 1.
- A template with "Country, capital, population, famous places, famous people", etc. Give students one of these templates in each PET class to write on, then glue into their passports. (See photos in Appendix)
Step 1:Here is a suggestion for introducing the PET Program:
- Put up a World Map and ask who has their own passport, and which countries they have been to.
- Show them your country, the countries you have visited, and the ones you want to visit.
- Then show them a PET passport, and tell them that they will make their own and 'visit' countries all around the world.
- Spend the first class making passports. Provide the photos, pre-cut construction paper, first two templates, and 10 white pages (folded in half and stapled when finished). Making the passports usually takes most of one 45-minute class. You can do the classic "Show me your passport please..." dialog to finish the first class. Don’t forget to collect the passports after each class!
Step 2:Before the nextclass, choose a country to visit and print pictures to go along with the information you will teach. (Wikipedia and Google Images are almost all I ever use.)
Step 3:In class, circle the country you will visit on the world map with a marker, then hand out their passports and the country templates.
Step 4:Before writing each word on the board, remember to ask students how to spell them, thereby eliciting phonics awareness. As they copy the words, show your pictures and realia.
Step 5:Design conversations to go along with the words you teach from each country. Here is an example that worked very well, in a class about Peru and its famous places. I told my students that (A) is a Japanese person, and (B) is from Peru. I used a 4-beat rhythm so they learned it as a chant, and after practicing many times, they did it in pairs with no beats. I was very pleased to hear snippets repeated in the halls the following week!
A) Hello, how are you?
B) Great, where are you from?
A) I’m from Japan.
B) Where are you going?
A) I’m going to Machu Picchu.
B) It’s very beautiful.
A) Thank you, goodbye.
B) OK, see you.
Once you have visited three or four countries and the students have therefore written 20 or 30 words, you can play the following writing game:
- In teams, one student from each team approaches the board holding their passport.
- Say a word and have the students write it on the board. Giving hints is helpful: “On the Canada page, Niagara.”
- The scoring method I use was: fastest writer = two points, neatest writer = two points, correct spelling = one point.
Teaching students about 25 countries was great, but the best part was when, in our final class, I returned their passports for the last time. I shook their hands and sent them on their way to Junior High School, with writing, reading and phonics skills, as well as international awareness.