Teach English in Peijie Zhen - Yuncheng Shi

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Learning English just like any educational pursuit is first driven by motivation. There are several motivations for learning English today. Majority of such motivations is borne out of necessity. i.e. for a job requirement, academic requirement, displacement from a non-English speaking domain to an English speaking domain, etc. Very few people are motivated to learn English out of sheer interest. Due to this, most people lack the necessary motivation toward learning. It is for this reason that it has become paramount to create more innovative ways of teaching and learning English towards a more fulfilling and successful end, hence the introduction of outdoor learning which has become indispensable in achieving this goal as it provides learners with a more fulfilling and effective learning experience. Outdoor learning is the practice of learning outside the classroom by engaging in activities that can be done at the outdoors. The choice of locations for outdoor learning can range from a school compound, local park, to a trip to the zoo, or farm. Although the practice of outdoor learning is most popular with primary school levels, it also occurs at the other levels in the educational system. The following are some outdoor activities that can help when teaching English: 1. Throw-Catch – is word/sentence based game that involves a ball (teacher can choose from tennis, basketball or football depending on the age of the students). Students and teacher form a circle. The teacher mentions an adjective, English numeral, or a sentence, then throws the ball to a student on the opposite side – the student that the ball is thrown to catches the ball and mentions another adjective, then throws the ball to the next person on the opposite side. This should follow in like manner until the ball returns to the teacher. Now whoever drops the ball or mentions the wrong word/sentence must mention sit outside the circle and wait for a second chance when the ball comes back around. This activity is also suitable for practicing spelling and can be done on a large school compound or at a local park. 2. Pic-a-snack – this involves a picnic at a local park or a children’s park. It can be both a cultural and language learning activity where students are introduced to western snacks or foods with focus on the language point, I like…/I don’t like... Here students can get to taste the various foods, after which they express their preferences. This activity can also be done without using actual food but pictures, flashcards or plastic molds. Additionally, the same model can be used to teach other vocabulary such as kitchenware or cutlery; and other simple language points like fruit vocabulary or vegetables in general. 3. Farm/Zoo Visit – this may require a short or day trip, depending on location of a suitable and child friendly environment. A revision of domestic animals and/or animals for food may be necessary before this activity. The language point of focus for this kind of activity can be on animal vocabulary and/or on how to answer the question: what is this/what is that? 4. Drum-a-word – useful for learning of syllables where the teacher holds up flashcards of words from language point and learners tap the drum according to the number of syllables the word has. This can also be useful in practicing rhymes, numerals, etc. the thought of drumming can get learners excited and motivated about the lesson, and coupled with an outdoor environment like a park or school compound. 5. Find the Magician Activity – useful for a grammar lesson on past tense usage/interrogative pronouns, where learners answer the question, “what/who/which Disney character did you see/meet on the way?” with the sentence, “I saw/met … on the way. This is suitable for a park activity where students are asked to go on a short journey by foot to find a great Magician (could be Merlin), and on each trail, they come across posters of animals, geographical locations or points such as the post office, library, mountains, forest, famous people, or cartoon characters. This kind of activity may require prior preparation where the posters are pinned to the barks of trees before the children arrive at the location or begin the activity. This activity can stimulate learners sense of discovery, and gives them a great opportunity not only to practically use the language points at hand, but also to revise already covered vocabulary. It is suitable for group work, pair work or individual work, depending on the size of the class. All the activities above can be very effective in facilitating a third part of the Study stage and/or the Activate stage of an English lesson. Overall, besides the activities mentioned above, outdoor activities generally help deal with complex and seemingly uninteresting topics in English grammar, help curb anxiety caused when learners find themselves in a formal setting such as a classroom, making them more receptive to the teaching. Finally, it helps students easily contextualize what they have studied or heard about a topic of study. Moreover, this enhances understanding of concepts or new vocabulary, making it easier for recollection and reproduction in the near future. Thus, using outdoor activities in teaching English is very helpful and highly effective. Bibliography Deirdre Howard-Williams, Grammar, Games and Activities, Penguin English, 2001. Hammerman, Donald, William Hammerman, and Elizabeth Hammerman. Teaching in the Outdoors, 3rd edition. Danville, IL: Interstate Printers and Publishers, 1985. Asmara, Candra Hadi, Anwar, Khoirul, Muhammad, Ribeh Najib, EFL Learners' Perception toward an Outdoor Learning Program, International Journal of Education and Literacy Studies, 2016. https://education.gov.scot/improvement/documents/hwb24-ol-support.pdf