Friday, October 14, 2011

CREATIVE ENGLISH TEACHING: simple and applicable warming up or brainstorming phase for every Senior High School teacher and every class condition.

Learning English should be exciting, stimulating and empowering. Why should it be exciting? Students will not be able to absorb a lesson if they are in a boring atmosphere, or an insecure condition. To deal with this condition, a teacher’s creativities are needed to design an exciting class. Teachers can start the creative teaching from the crucial phase – Warming up or Brainstorming.

a. A passive and unmotivated class needs to be activated physically. One of the successful engaging techniques in dealing with this class is asking students to write some words on the board relating to the present topic discussion. This activity will work and engage students if those whose vocabulary is limited are asked to write the words in the native language, and the translation session will be done together later. The benefit of this activity is that the students are easily able to recall lots of words relating to the topic, which are missed in the textbook. Even, their recalling of the words in the native language will be much useful and enriching vocabulary if those words have similar uses to their context. The next step is the translation session, which is carried out to help them find out the meaning and the use of the words in English, can be done in the following ways: providing them with standard bi-lingual dictionaries, or making the examples of the use of the word with the familiar words in that they can guess what is the meaning of the target word. This activity should not be done too long.

b. Telling the funny and ridiculous stories, which are caused by the lack of knowledge on the topic being discussed. This warming up activity is more intended to give the meaningfulness of learning a lesson. Learning will be felt meaningless for students if they do not know specifically the reasons underlying their learning. The stories should be better based on the true experiences even if teachers can tell anticipative stories. The reality stories will bring much more sparkling into the student’s spirit, for example, what is going to happen if one of the students is invited to eat at a restaurant where there are many unfamiliar menus (international menus) and they, the students, have no ideas how to order a food or a drink. Being in the situation, the students will be confused and could do some ridiculous manner for they might order in the same way they usually do in their own culture, which are not always properly suited to the international or English culture. It is true that preparing such stories is not easy, especially for the teachers who do not have many experiences of the stories. Fortunately, in this modern age teachers can easily find and collect the stories from the internet.

c. Showing a couple of pictures relating to the topic being discussed. Pictures can stimulate students’ imagination and eagerness in learning. The pictures can be in the series activity that create a story, or separated activities without any texts in it. The emphasis of this activity is to activate students’ skill in making sentences through the stimulating pictures. The first step of implementing this activity is to ask students to list all the verbs, adjectives, and adverbs describing the pictures.

d. Giving challenges to students through the words guessing that relate to the topic being discussed. Teachers should be aware that they must tell students the topic, which will be learned in that students can direct their imagination to the target word that will be guessed, not drifting away from the context intended. For example, the words that will be guessed are make a phone call, and then teachers provide a sentence with the gaps in the sentence as in If you want to buy a ticket in the busy days, you must ___ _ ____ ____ to make a reservation. This activity will be felt engaging if students have already masterd most of the words around the target words. This will help students as a tool to strengthen their memory on the key words of the topic. In addition, it will be an exciting challenge for students if it is allocated in the beginning of teaching.

e. Engaging sleepy students in the first hour of the class by inviting them to come forward bringing a piece of paper with a letter written on it – the paper is prepared by the teacher. The number of the students invited depends on the number of the letters for a word. A student may have A, while others may have H, N, O, P, E, so that those letters will form a word saying a phone. When the students are invited forward, the rest of the students can make some instructions addressed to the students in front of the class. The instructions can be like Andy, would you please move to the right side of John! Or Budi, please, move to the right end!