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Kids World

Topics of interest to teachers of English as a second or foreign language to young learners.

September 30, 2005

Back to School

KidsI had a great vacation, four weeks of which were spent in cosmopolitan San Francisco, where I was exposed to lots of cultural treats and enjoyed an ample amount of Greek and Thai food. In sunny San Diego, I swam, hiked and reconnected with many friends; as a result, I feel really relaxed and mellow. How I wish I could ride on the crest of this refreshing wave into September. Our students must feel the same way because I am sure it is equally hard for all of us to make the transition from the vacation mode to the school/work one.

In a nutshell, our students are a little different from what they were like when we parted from them at the beginning of the summer.

So this September, out of respect for my students, who also experienced their own special vacations, I am going to try to ease into English class activities gently. I am going to move a little more slowly than usual. In addition, since I am truly interested in knowing how they spent the summer, I am going to arrange my students in a circle and encourage them to tell me a little bit about their vacations by asking really simple questions, such as:

Where did you go this summer? Kagoshima? Nagasaki? Sendai? New York? Hawaii? (I will use a map for reference for this question.)

Whom did you go with? Your parents? Your brother and sister? Your friends? Your grandparents?

What was the best thing for you? Swimming? Hiking? Shopping? Playing with friends? Reading?

Did you finish your homework? When did you finish it? How much more do you have to do? Do you like doing summer homework? Do you know there is no summer homework in America?

Are you happy to be back at school?

What do you like best about being back at school? Seeing your friends? Seeing your teachers? Studying?

Then I plan to show the students some pictures of me on my vacation in San Francisco and San Diego. I will encourage them all to ask me one question each about my vacation. The pictures will help them envision some of the answers I give.

With higher level classes, I will try to coordinate the students in pairs so that they can ask each other these or other vacation-related questions.

I think creating this little summer-report scenario will accomplish a number of things. It will help all of us ride a portion of the refreshing summer wave into the English classroom by sharing stories. It will help the students make the transition from the summer vacation mode back to the school one. It should also offer them some form of satisfaction in the realization that they can relate to each other about their own summer vacation in English.

In a nutshell, our students are a little different from what they were like when we parted from them at the beginning of the summer. They are richer for the experiences they had, as are we. Therefore, I think this approach is a gentler, kinder way to greet them in September. I encourage you to try it. You may be surprised or impressed with what they tell you.

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