Kelliefish13's Blog

Travel writing, Poems and Stories


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Challenges

One of the things I posted early was that one of the reasons I blog is to help improve my writing and spelling by practising. Today I was filling out application forms to do a TEFL course, teaching English as a foreign language. It asked some really hard questions to do with grammar, well actually the initial question wasn’t hard, it was the explain your answer part that was. Somehow I didn’t think because sentence A sounds right and sentence B sounds wrong was quite what they were looking for. It took me a while but I got to an answer and it had to do with singular pronouns generally use was and plural pronouns generally use were. Turns out there is a big difference between knowing something and explaining why (though I did know this I had just never used it in this context).
Another question asked me to compare teaching a language to teaching mathematics, in answering this questions I worked under the assumption they were really different and pointed out many of the differences. However now that my brain has slowly had time to tick it over, maybe they aren’t that different at all. And perhaps treating it more like maths would make it easier seeing as I always enjoyed maths. Well maybe not the whole language just grammar and spelling. This is why I think they are similar – There are rules, they may come with exceptions but in general knowing what the rules are will help you work out how to pronounce or spell a word, know were to put all that pesky punctuation, and even how to set up a sentence.
Turns out knowing the rules helps, pity I didn’t learn half of them in the first place, but I am trying to learn now. I have had many eye opening moments while preparing to teach phonics (something I wasn’t taught and is great fun to teach to English children in a New Zealand accent) where I suddenly realised that those two vowels together made that particular sound, every time. Or how the magic e made the middle sound long, another thing that I had missed as a child and had only worked out from what I heard or saw in books. I have also bought myself a book awhile ago now that is full of mnemonics and rhymes to help you remember everything from grammar rules to history that I need to look at again and stop just reading the fun songs in the history part.
I am really excited about doing a course about teaching someone to learn a language and learning more about the language I speak, read and write in. I really wish I hadn’t always been stuck in the belief that I was not good enough in English since I keep finding more and more parts of it that I really enjoy.


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Being Polite

Being a teacher I spend a fair amount of my day harping on about things like saying sorry, please and thank you and as I was sitting on the bus I saw a 13 year old boy hope onto the bus and very politely say a return ticket into town please, it was perfect. But is it worth it? Should I bother trying to teach manners?

I decided saying sorry was very important to learn especially for kids who are constantly rushing past and bumping into each other, who don’t realise their strength, and who don’t look where they are going (too enthusiastic and still learning, not malicious). For these things I teach that if you hurt or annoy someone that it is important to say I’m sorry I didn’t mean to because that way the other person knows its an accident and you weren’t trying to hurt them (which is confusing if you don’t know and I often get children telling me that so and so doesn’t want to be their friend any more, how do they know? the other child ‘hurt’ them as often as not the other child has no idea what they had done and upon asking other children it is usually an accident like stepping on someone’s fingers, bumping into them as they go past etc). And before someone goes into it it takes many children until they are at least 7 before they can tell with some accuracy when someone has done something on purpose or by accident (I am not quoting studies just what I have seen from watching children at playtimes and in a classroom).
Learning to apologise when you have made a mistake is important, it takes away the confusion for the person affected.

But what about please and thank you? Are they as important?
They definitely make what your asking sound better, and from my experience they tend to make it more likely that the person your asking will say yes. Which is a rather important part of the whole exchange, I don’t normally ask people for something hoping for them to say no. Also it makes the person you asking feel better about it (generally not always), I myself love being told thanks for that etc, and am more likely to help out that person again even if it means going out of my way to do so.
But back to the classroom, one complaint I often hear is she/he stole my rubber/pencil sharpener/pencil etc 9 times out of ten they were just borrowing it but hadn’t bothered to ask, so then I model “please may I borrow your pencil sharpener?” or “can Mary please borrow your eraser?” to which the child being asked normally looks up nods/hands me the item and carries on with what they are doing. So then remind the borrower that that is a good way of getting what they want.

The conclusion I have come to is that manners are important mostly to stop confusion because it communicates to the other person what you need, that your are grateful or that you didn’t mean to. Just asking may/can I, may not actually need a please and is miles ahead of just taking but it helps. Thank you and sorry are the most important.