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My Biggest Grievance


WRITTEN BY: Raegina Taylor       ADDED: Sep 15, 2008

In the centre of a busy street in a nameless English-speaking country, stands a lone Japanese junior high school student. They scratch their head as they watch the people rush past and looking at the neon signs and paraphernalia in the street blaring English, their head begins to hurt. Taking a deep breath they find a piece of scratch paper in their pocket and a conveniently placed pencil with it. Courageously, they walk up to a street vendor and using their best rehearsed interview face from class asks ‘What do you like post office?’



A question that constantly arises in teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) is, ‘How can I make my class more interesting for students and still achieve the test scores they need?’ Games are fun, drills are reinforcing and the textbook, especially in Japan, holds much control over how the students learn. However, out in the real world, our students will not be using English as interviews or games, nor will they be expected to rattle off in slow, monotonous and meaningless ways, sentences they had to memorize for tests.


Think about a time you were most absorbed in learning. More often than not, it was the occasions you were challenged to apply what you were learning to the real world. Learning about any subject is not under the assumption that we live in a vacuum of games and no relativity. For example, when we study math, we are given access to situations in which to apply what we are learning to create a foundation for ‘effective learning’. What would be the point of learning if there was no application for it?


So, the question is: How can I apply real world application of EFL to my classroom to make the study of English more exciting for my students?


1. Make English an Accessible Entity

Show students the different forms of English present around them. Take photographs of common buildings, signs & menus, videos of commercials, TV segments & music clips, or play some Japanese songs that are laced with interwoven English lyrics.  Pointing out to students the presence of English around them will open not only their eyes, but also their own attentiveness to the way English is already a part of their present life and the society around them.


2. Current Events and Culture

A great way to continue the flow from accessibility is to begin looking at things students are normally interested in and apply that to your classroom. An example is taking a current event in your area and showing information on the same event from other countries through media access. Use real materials, such as newspaper articles, videos and websites to give the students something tangible.


3. What About the Textbook ?!?!

The textbook contains what we must teach, but it shouldn’t form how we teach it. Take the textbook's grammar and the topics in each chapter and find a way to apply it to a tangible, real life application. Instead of teaching the students about Braille, allow them to experience Braille; don’t teach them about weather, have the students investigate weather via English materials and resources.


This type of learning takes more time, effort and imagination to create lessons.  However, it does not take more class time. It replaces the games, drills and other forms of teaching, which are believed to be the most effective ways for students to learn, and encourages them to learn via experiencing the language.  Learning through experience and application gives students the interest to participate in the classroom and learn English as opposed to being taught about English and the way it is present in the world.



This page was last modified on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 10:41:43 AM