Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Yesterday was the class for students repeating First-year English Communication. It is a mixed class of second and third-year students. The roll suggests that there are 14 people in each of two classes. I have seen a few more than half of their faces, and there were 4 students in each class yesterday to take a unit test. Possibly half of those students passed the short test.

Over the weekend we had another gathering of participants of the Yokkaichi Teachers' Initiative. This week's theme was Learning Strategies for Teachers and Learners. The workshop was my job this time, so I organized it with the help of materials, especially the book, "The Learning Strategies Handbook," by Anna Uhl Chamot, Sarah Barnhardt, Pamela Beard El-Dinary, and Jill Robbins, published by Pearson Education. A fine book to own for any teacher.

I was struck by the gap that my class yesterday illuminated for me between the strategies outlined in the "Handbook" and the strategies my students employ. Rather than starting with strategies for planning and monitoring, these students are in need of some tools that will help them make some more fundamental decisions. Do they want to be at university? Do they want to graduate with an English language tool in their bag of goodies? Are they ready to make the effort required to meet standards? If asked, they would probably exhibit a variety of mixed responses between students and even with individuals. My guess is that they would acknowledge the need for a second language, but would be hesitant in committing themselves to the amount of effort required to achieve standards.

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