January 14, 2014

A lovely day at CNA

It was my great pleasure to be with a joyful group of teachers at CNA Lapa sharing and learning about affective language learning and storytelling on January, 9th.

During the morning session we focused on the concepts and practices involved in affective language learning and how we can be aware of details that make a big difference in how the relationship with the students and with the language is lived. 

We started our day by discussing one of my favourite quotes.

After our discussion we watched a segment of the movie Seven Years in Tibet, in which Heinrich Harrer teaches English to the Dalai Lama. You can watch this segment again here:

Check here the pedagogical postures and practices from this scene. 

We were not able to watch the other affective teaching movie segment I had planned from Mr. Holland's Opus. You can watch it here and check the affective postures.

I mentioned that a common misconception to affective teaching is that the teacher is more of a friend to the student than an actual teacher. In this misconception, children would learn as long as they “like” the teacher, who as a result might be inclined to only teach what the child wants to know or to only do what the child wants to do, resulting in a mixture improvisation and permissiveness. Last but not least, affective teaching doesn’t have to do with kissing, hugging or excessively praising children.

After discussing and being inspired by Brad Pitt the group came up with ways in which affective language learning can be lived in the CNA context. I have organized below these postures and practices: 

The comments in blue are mine.

Listening - certainly the most important one. Listening with the ears, head, and heart. 

Greetings - so simple, but it makes such a difference!
Get connected!
Really listening to what they say and responding accordingly.
Smart communication (Speaking the same language)
Ask your students how they are feeling at that moment and why. You can use picture cards!
Connect with the students and help them understand you and what you are ready to show them.
Have some chatting time in the beginning of classes. 
Make students know each other with the activities. Essential!
I make sure everybody knows each other’s names by the end of the first class.

I play a game called say something surprising about yourself. I start. Great to model first!
Tell your students funny stories about yourself.
Share your life experiences. 
Sharing my experience as an English student to show students we have things in common. Show them the path that worked for you! 

Being on the same level.
When leading in or introducing a new topic I sit.
Teach instead of correcting. That is being generous!
The more you make the environment comfortable, the more students will learn.

I try to be in a good humour.
Setting them free to be themselves in class, but not to free until a mess comes up.
Make them free to be encouraged to speak and do the activities confidently.

Be creative.
Use different  creative resources, media and subjects (cards, globe, pictures, etc) 
Teaching students by doing things, experimenting, exploring
Play games to stimulate their knowledge with the new topic they are going to learn.
Play games to know students better.
Blend  fun with goals, what students want with what they need to learn.

Love your profession.
Give them pleasure.
Love what you do and students will have pleasure to study.

Ask about your students’ expectations.
Pay attention if they are satisfied with the way of teaching.
Show you care about them and their learning.
Helping them to apply the knowledge in the real world.
Knowing their objectives, dreams and difficulties.
In the end of every class ask students if they have enjoyed the class, why they enjoyed it and what could be done differently. Maybe not every class, but every week I would suggest. 

Here below I added some important practices that didn't come up in the answers. 

Be authentic
Make real questions
Respect learners’ silent period
Do interesting things in English
Help them say what they would like 
Promote success-oriented interactions 
Ask students what and how they like to learn
Use language as a real means of communication
Welcome, surprise, compliment, and celebrate

We closed the morning session with the video 100 ways to show your students you care: 

During the afternoon we went on a journey into the fascinating world of storytelling. I started telling a story from the 1001 Arabian nights for the teachers to experience and recall the pleasure of imagining and living the warmth of the atmosphere created while storytelling. The idea here is for us to remember the sacred nature of stories and how this magic should be lived with your language learners, regardless of their age. This is extremely important, as we might be carried over by our linguistic goals and lose this language learning booster called fantasy.

I pointed out that we are all storytellers and we talked about the importance of sharing our own stories and really listening to students' stories as a way of using language as a real means of communication. We moved on to the different benefits children get while storytelling.

After listening to the Big Block of Chocolate by Participants listed techniques that were used. These techniques included the hook and picturing , opening and closing with grace, personalizing and interviewing,  as well as interacting, what are the saying,  what are they thinking, and some different follow up activities.

I would like to offer you here a video with 100 ways to open and close stories with grace:

And then the group studied the big books and figured out the best ways to use each technique with the stories they had chosen. Then storytime! We told stories to each other and practiced the new techniques and gave each other feedback on how we had done. Check the energy and joy in the faces of teachers while storytelling. This is what affective language learning is about! 

Thank you for the great day!
Thank you Lilian and Helena for having invited me!

How did you like this day?
What have you been thinking after the sessions?

Please do write me sharing how your experience with affective learning and storytelling has changed. I'd love to hear from you! 

Sending you all a big hug,

Juan (@jaluribe)

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