Sunday, 30 August 2009

New beginnings

Two weeks ago it was time to end a lovely summer holiday and get back to work at Sandvika upper secondary school. It feels great to be back, but the first weeks are always incredibly hectic. After two days (not enough!) of intense planning with colleagues it was time to greet the new first year pupils. Since they are new to me and new to each other we have to spend some time in the first lessons getting to know each other. At the same time, I think their motivation and eagerness to learn is at its peak right now and I have really tried to take advantage of that and get started with the serious stuff from day 1. One of the curriculum goals in English is that pupils are to be able to explain how English has developed from an Anglo-Saxon language into a world language. This is a fairly tall order for first year upper secondary school students, but my colleague LK has some good suggestions for resources on this topic on her blog. This page from the Norwegian publishing house Gyldendal also contains some good texts and activities: Global English (click "Timeline of English")

The fact that English has developed into a language spoken by hundreds of millions of people worldwide is perhaps enough to answer the question "Why learn English". Still, it is good if the pupils can say something about why English is important for them. During the first English lesson this year, I asked my pupils to discuss in groups why they learn English in Norwegian schools. Some are quick to reply "because we have to" (in other words "because we are forced to"), but after talking about it for a while they were able to come up with some good reasons as well as some good examples of how English can be useful to them in their future. In this listening exercise (see the bottom right corner of the page) textbook author Richard Burgess interviews students of English from various countries. I find these short interviews useful when pupils are to reflect upon their language learning and it is good for them to practice understanding English speakers with various accents. In addition, it serves as a good introduction to next week's topic, which will be English as a global language. Photo taken at Sandvika upper secondary school, Norway.

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