Cover letter

Hi, I’m a “letras” student at Federal University of Ceará and I made this blog in order to achieve a better grade in one of my classes. I’ll post here the reports of some observations I had made during this semester. That’s all folks.

The Silent Way

It is a method created by Calleb Gattegno in 1963 to be used in language education. The silent way focus is that the students should have an active role in the learning process while the teacher should be monitoring and encouraging them and also trying to help with their pronunciation. It is not a conventional method thefore it is not used by many.

This method try to make the students talk and to take iniciatives in the classroom while the teacher almost don’t use his voice, instead, try to use differant ways to comunicate and encourage the students. The silent way is known by the use of cuisenaire rods of different colors and sizes. Some sound-color charts are used to teach language, with words and letters of different colors.

Autobiography

Actually I did not pursued teaching English, when I subscribed to this course I did not know that “licenciatura” was a license to teach. However I did not find yet something that I can say that I love and will work with it for the rest of my life.

Half of my knowledge in the English language was acquired outside classroom. I am native from Canoa Quebrada, a small beach but a place with a lot of tourists, some of them love that place so much that decide to live there. That’s the background of where I first started to learn the language. For many times I had foreigners in my house speaking many different languages since I was a baby, I had this early input in L2 so since I was a small kid I knew what was a foreign language. When I got a bit older I decided I want to understand and communicate with them so I began to translate texts and lyrics of musics I used to listen.

I kept doing this and studying of my own for a while, then I decided to try and communicate with the tourists. In a short time I got good at it an did not had much issues. It is said that the affective filter takes an important part in L2 learning and I agree with that, at least that works with me. For example, in classroom I did not really learned much in those times, I didn’t like to be inside a classroom and did not liked the L2 teacher. But when I was having fun at parties or at the beach with those foreigners ladies it was really easy for me to learn, the environment and the fun really motivated me.

About the input, it should always be in the target language, the use of the L1 should only be used as a last resort. When students of L2 are exposed to the language it gets easier for them to be used with it, an example of it, is when the teacher use the “i+1” method, the “i” is the level of proficiency of the student and the 1 is the content of the target level he want/should achieve.

A little bit after I began to understand the English language, in the beginning of high school I think, my English teacher was replaced. That’s when I met the greatest teacher I ever had. Although the great majority of my classmates used to hate English, they (included me) loved the teacher, and everyone could get better grades with him. He did not speak Portuguese during the lessons(that was a shock to my classmates, they did not have the same knowledge like I already had), but he knew how to get our attention and explain everything he had to. He knew how to manage the class, even the most rebel students(me included off course “lol”) respected him, he was kind of rebel in his own way, always making everyone in class laugh in the right moments.

He also knew well his students, with the ones that had no shame he would correct them right in the moment they had made a mistake in front of everyone, as for the quiet ones he would correct later. That was his way to give the “live” feedback, he also used to put some notes in student’s tests after the correction. He also used to motivate us, not only about L2 but also in other ways, he became friend with the “rebel group”, he defended us many times, but always trying to make us realize that we should use our energy and creativity to do other better things.

The worst teachers I had did not know how to deal with students, they were like dictators,arbitrary and thinking they were always right, their classes were boring, always the same thing, they only used the same formula: read, explain and ask students to do exercise. It was really rare the use of visual resources in class, like movies or slides, or even more rare the field classes. In the case of the L2 teachers they, most of them did not had a good level of proficiency(in elementary and high school).

Observation Report 3: The Students

The students that I had observed are great. Their behavior is exemplary, they always got in class a little while before the class begin, with few exceptions since our city has many problems with heavy traffic. They do not use cellphones in the class and do not begin conversations parallel to the explanation, they are students that all teachers dream of. They usually do not make jokes in class as well unless it is contextualized with the content of the lesson, it is always in an appropriate manner and interacting with the teacher.

At the end of every class they are assigned with homework, from the book or even an essay using the content of the class. At the beginning of every class they have to give the teacher the essays or are asked to give the answers of the exercises collectively while the teacher is correcting the exercises.

Although students are currently more or less in the same level, each one, as individuals, have their own difficulties and doubts. At the and of the class, some of them seek the teacher to ask about their doubts and often ask tips to the teacher about extra ways of learning and solving their difficulties. I had observed that the teacher always give a good feedback to them. They also have instant questions during the class and also receive instant answers.

They have a lot of activities in class also. One of the activities was to create a dialogue involving the content they were studying at that time, and what I saw was impressive, they really created some high quality dialogues with way more than the basic they were asked for. The class they are attending is of the level S4, so they had no difficulties to understand the lessons given tho them, so there is no memorizing thing with them, they really have been acquiring the content of the lessons.

So, the students observed by me are way better than I am, they are committed, motivated and have a great performance at classroom. So, with such good students plus a good teacher, there is no problems in relation to the interaction with each other, the class become pleasant for everyone of them, including me which was observing but also enjoying the time spent there.

Observation report 2: The Teacher

This report is based on “Guidelines for observing the cooperating teacher” so I will try to use the notes I made in my observation classes following directions of it.

The name of the cooperating teacher that I had observed is Simone. She always start the classes setting goals on the board. Although she uses the book and the media included in it, she also tries to make different activities related to the subjects of the lessons. About the instructional sequencing, she first correct the homework, after this there is an explanation of subjects, then she uses the disk of the book, and also ask to the students to work in pairs or groups of three or more students, but not precisely in this order.

The teacher always uses the English language during the class(the class was of level s4 I do not know how different things are in lower levels). She tries to encourage the students to develop elaborated answers to her questions and also stimulate them to question each other. She always tries to answer their doubts promptly, when she does not it is because she is about to explain it in the next lesson. When there is new vocabulary she usually uses the board to show the use of these new words in sentences (she uses the board quite often, not only in this situation). She also give tips of movies that could help them in subjects related to the lessons.

About time management, she does it very well. I had never seem her getting late for the class, she is always in time, this is important otherwise she would have to improvise in order to make all activities she planned. Usually the time she gives for the completion of the activities is enough for the students, if she says “five minutes guys” she really means five minutes. That is a good thing, she really manages it well so she always get to the end of class with all goals achieved, I have also to mention that the classes never get boring, she can do a really dynamic class, you can see it by the face of her students.

When I was observing her, I tried to compare the classes I had in school(both, public and private) with the classes she teach. I think that if second language classes in school were based and applied in the same way classes at CBB are we would have much more people speaking, or at least capable of understanding a foreign language. I could not find anything in her classes that I would make different, I was really inspired by her as a teacher, I had learned a lot there, not only as a college student, but as an L2 learner too, there was some things in the classes that I had for a long time forgotten.

Observation Report 1: Facilities

The Casa de Cultura Britânica is one of the six “casas” that offers courses of language and culture in foreign languages .It is situated within the Centro de Humanidades which is part of UFC. It was founded by the “Reitor Antônio Martins Filho” in may 4fh, 1964 and its first name was “Curso de Cultura Britânica”.

The building has an old style and have classrooms in the ground and first floors. There is a board with some informations for the students. The coordination is up the first floor (I had to ask for the directions to some students because there is no information for the whereabouts of the room) which the only way to visit it is by stairs( which could be a problem if any student with special needs wants to have access to the room). There is, in the entrance hall for the classes accessibility for people who use wheelchairs.The environment seems to be calm and nice and it looks like the students feel comfortable within the place.

The institution offers an english course with the four skills, and have classes during all the day, from morning to the night. The course has 6 levels, from s1 to s6, and the students have the option to start from the first level and all up to the sixth(if they pass the exam) or make a placement test and start from an specific chosen level. It has specific courses of advanced and upper levels and also offers a course for students that are subscribed in certain post graduation courses, from private and public colleges. Finally it also offers tests/exams of level

The teachers must be graduate in an Foreign Language college course in order to participate of the public selection to be able to teach there. There are also substitute teachers who pass to a different and temporary process of selection. So that is all the information that I could get of the place, and I’m still waiting for the answer of the coordination in behalf of the observation attendance.