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About

What's wrong with "open your books?"

what's wrong with "open your books"?

Nothing, of course, but there's a little something you can do which, imho, makes all the difference. Read on if you're interested.

I think the picture will make sense then.

By the way, imho = in my humble opinion.


Whenever I teach or observe someone else's teaching, I tend to pay veryclose attention to how seamlessly the steps and activities are linked. This obsession with the "togetherness" of a lesson started early in my career. Back in the late 80s / early 90s, I often felt there was something wrong with the flow of my classes, but it took me a while to put my finger on what it was exactly.

Guess what - it was the ubiquitous "open your books" command.

Consider the following pre-reading discussion, in a lesson about complaints:

Teacher: So, Paulo, when you buy something that doesn't live up to your expectations, what do you normally do?
Paulo: I take back at the store, because is my right like consumer.
Teacher: Right, so you take it back to the store, then. Marilia, what about you?
Marilia: Well, I ...
(Teacher calls on the other students and listens to their contributions)
Teacher: How do you think the Americans and the Brits are different when it comes to complaining?
(Students contribute)
Teacher: Ok. Now open your books to page 72.
(Students open their bags, get books, borrow pens, drop metal pencil cases on the floor...)
Teacher: Right... So here's a text about complaining in the UK and the US. I want you to...

The teacher knew all along, of course, that the text on page 72 was about complaining and that the foregoing discussion was meant to pave the way for what was in the book. But what about the students? I'm not sure they did. To all intents and purposes, the fun, lively discussion was interrupted by the dreaded "now open your books" sentence and the link between the discussion and the book may not have seemed all that obvious, after all.

Now consider the same scenario with a little tweaking:

Teacher: How do you think the Americans and the Brits are different when it comes to complaining?
(Students contribute)
Teacher: Ok. So, João thinks that ... Hugo agrees with him, but Lúcia... Let's see who's right. There's a very interesting article in your book talking about the very same thing. Can you turn to page 72, please?

Here, the teacher is trying to link "pre-book" and "book" more explicitly by whetting students' appetites, explaining what they'll find in the book andhow it connects to whatever had been going on up until then. Two more examples:

(After an oral activity)
"Ok, you're doing great, but I think you need a little more practice. There's a good exercise in the book. It's on page 81. Take a look."

(After eliciting vocabulary)
"Ok, so you've come up with ... how many ... 7 adjectives to describe your ideal job. There are five more in your student's book. Page 32, exercise B."

This sort of "pre-book seduction" makes all the difference in the togetherness of a lesson, I believe.

Thanks for reading.

Downloads: 75


Supporter
Comment by ddeubel on September 1, 2010 at 2:42pm
Luiz,

I was smiling as I read your "dialogue". Really interesting to hear and feel how teachers "talk".

I agree with your assessment and that is a wonderful observation. However, why not take it further. Is it not the book itself which kind of kills the appetite? or would you disagree and it is all in how you introduce it? Just wondering if it is the thing itself or the "how"....

David

Supporter
Comment by Luiz Otávio Barros on September 1, 2010 at 5:12pm
David,
I wouldn't generalize beyond the "how you do it". There are books and books and students and students, I think. Some actually do like having a book to refer to. It helps them feel more secure.
Thanks for reading, anyway!

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