Wednesday, 6 November 2019

What Does "a" Mean?


Anticipating problems that may arise and proffering solutions to them was one of the highlights of my CELTA training. While planning your lesson, for each stage you need to predict and note down how you would respond to learner needs. Obviously, this is to give you an edge and keep you prepared and it’s always a good feeling if you have predicted something rightly.

Normally this should be easy because you know your students and therefore you should be able to project and cover all problematic areas right? WrongThere’ll always be those “oops, I didn’t see that coming” moments. I had one of those today.

So after introducing the “Infinitive to+ verb (base form)” I successfully set the first task for students to practice the target question “What do you want to be in the future?” They were to go round and interview classmates then we would take a poll to see which future ambition was most popular. I also had an example sentence on the worksheet  “ I want to be a doctor” Just before I set the timer for them to begin the task, a student puts up his hand and asks in Japanese “ Lola “a”の意味は何ですか。 Translation: what does “a” mean?
What! My brain did a screech, halted to a stop and backpedalled as I gulped and blinked all at once. I mean, I disgraced my training. I went blank for a few seconds as I wondered what the heck he was about. He read the target sentence and asked what the “a” in front of the doctor means. I can bet you’re confused now too. Took me a few seconds but I finally got him. I drew four stick figures on the board and labelled each of them “doctor” then I pointed at one of the figures  and said, “a doctor, one, OK?” I repeated this process with “a teacher” and “a gamer”.  He went “ahhh” and we moved forward. LOL

Call me weird, but those are the kind of moments that really make my day. They help me gauge the stuff I’m made of and note areas I need to work on. For example, today I noted that I need to work on my facial expression and try not to give away emotions easily. I was very dramatic during those few seconds of confusion as I scratched my head and went へえ(a Japanese expression for so many things). It was kind of awkward for the poor student. Note to self: compose yourself in those unprecedented moments. Lesson learnt.

Anticipate problems all you want but there’ll be moments like this because it’s impossible to anticipate every single thing that could go wrong. So you need to read up ad know your subject matter well. However, when push comes to shove, there’s no shame in saying “can I get back to you on that?” and please make sure that you do.

Thankfully that moment didn’t mess up the lesson plan and the activity went on as planned. By the way, can you guess the profession that scored the highest in the poll? Leave your answer in the comment section and I’ll let you know if you got it right.

Thank you for stopping by. See you next post!






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