Friday, September 7, 2007

Fun times with Free Talk

The children I get to see most often are my Treehouse kids. While all my higher level classes only meet with me once a week; I get to see my treehouse kids 3 times. They are all around 7 or 8 years old, and although they haven't had many years of English; their speaking ability is quite good.

To start off each class, our lesson plan includes a 5 minute activity called Free Talk. Grammar is not so important during this as the main idea is to get the kids thinking and speaking in English. Each lesson comes with a topic of discussion. While some of these are quite intersting, more often than not, they are completely random and useless.

For example, one topic for free talk a few days ago was genetics. The lesson plan suggested asking the kids to describe their physical characteristics, i.e. straight hair vs. curly, long vs. short, brown eyes vs. blue eyes. Then to name the characteristics of their moms and dads. The idea was to get the kids thinking about which parent they resembled more and how they inherit different traits from both their mom and dad. However, this activity doesn't work so well with Asian children.

Me: Barry, what color is your hair?
Barry: Black
Me: What color is your mom's hair?
Barry: Black
Me: What color is your dad's hair?
Barry: Black
Me: Um, so who do look the most like?
Barry: -confused look on face-

The same conversation was repeated with eye color, height, and any other physical feature. The only variation I got was with hair length, in which case I had to explain that that was not genetic.

Another fun free talk topic was childbirth. The lesson plan gave me some interesting tidbits about a woman who had given birth to the most children (69- of which she had spent 27 years pregnant). And another woman who had given birth to the most children simultaneously (9- nonuplets). After explaining the concept of pregnancy, gestation periods, and the difference between identical and fraternal twins; I'd decided the kids had learned enough.

The plan also included some more morbid details. For example, the woman who had given birth to nonuplets. Within 6 days all of her children were dead. I intentionally left this detail out, as I just didn't have the energy to explain infant mortality and the dangers of fertility drugs to a group of elementary schoolers.


At September 12, 2007 at 10:58 AM , Blogger Naruwan said...

A good question to ask is: "How many cousins do you have?" You'll be surprised just how many cousins some Taiwanese have! Once they've figured out that cousin includes 'tang di', tang ge', 'biao di' and 'biao ge'(that's just for the boys/men), they'll have fun adding 'em up. I asked this question to a group of adults and got answers like 25, 32, even 45!


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