So I have this class of relatively advanced students. I had them last semester, dropped the class when I thought I would have lots of at-home students, and picked them up again this semester when those all-talk at-home students didn't pan out.
They're a nice group, but getting them to talk is like pulling teeth. I've tried so many different kinds of activities, but they prefer to be talked at than to talk themselves. A problem with the group is the huge age gap the ages range from 15-55.
So on our first day back yesterday, I was frank with them-- I'm kind of lost as to what to do to make the class more interactive/exciting/valuable for them. I asked them what they liked about the semester before, what they didn't like, what they wanted specifically. Even then, the answers were sparse. But one girl (an 18-year-old), said, "bring us more American culture. You know, things that aren't in Brazil."
"Yeah, yeah!" They agreed.
The 15-year-old said, "Yeah, like bad words, slang, movies..."
A 31-year-old said, "like the American style of business meetings...."
Those ideas were a help, but it's hard to actually translate those elements into activities. Furthermore, I get the impression that they think there's some sort of secret I'm keeping from them. I don't know what there is about American culture that I can "bring" to them in a way that improves their English. I don't want to just bring lectures on "the differences between American and Brazilian Culture." They have to be the ones doing the speaking.
My boss is flexible about the material, which is nice after the experiences Kristin and I had teaching in San Diego. We're allowed to bring in whatever multimedia we want; I can show movies or TV shows, I can bring in my laptop and talk about YouTube clips (though remember that most jokes are kind of lost on non-native speakers), etc. He also encourages me to teach bad words and slang if the students ask for it. So I have options... I just have to think more.
So now I come to you, faithful and mostly American blog readers! (Non-American blog readers can also be a huge help, since you have an idea of things about America that you didn't know that you wish you had before you got there.) What about American culture can I "bring" to my students? If you don't know of activities specifically, you can just tell me things that you think are specific to or important in American culture. If you're feeling extra generous, you can write me a little paragraph titled "A Day in My Life in The US," and talk about your routine (include times that you do things, what you do for fun, what/where you eat, and your job). Don't worry about the English-- just write how you would talk and I'll edit it if I need to. You'd be surprised how interesting you are on this side of the planet, at least to the people in my class! ;)
I'll leave you with some pictures of our typical afternoon storms that we have this time of year. I tried to get a video of the rain and thunder, but the quality on my very nice but very simple digital camera couldn't really capture it. So instead of the storm video, I'll show you a commercial for a new soap opera here that's a bunch of Brazilians pretending to be Indian (just for you, Patty!):
Have a good day, everyone!