Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Come up with something!

An American student asked a group of Japanese business students, "You need to come up with an idea. Did you come up with one?" We use so many phrasal verbs in English, those verb and preposition combinations with linking and stress on the prepositions. The next day, I showed them a site I'd copied onto Blackboard of the 25 most common phrasal verbs in English. Their writing teaching had them write (or come up with) dialogues, which they performed. After I taught "come up with", they all started using it. I also noticed that other native speakers used it with them all the time. Let me know if you can come up with other ways to teach phrasal verbs.

Teaching vocabulary strategies

The absolute best strategy you can teach your students is to recognize vocabulary from context. English speakers are so wordy, so redundant, and constantly adding paraphrases and examples that students can easily understand a speaker without understanding all the words.

A group of Japanese I am teaching went on a field trip to learn about business. This one was amazing. It's a business incubator in downtown St. Louis, called T-Rex. It rents space to start up businesses. Anyway, I took notes on the lectures and typed them up for students to analyze and guess the meanings of words in bold type. Here are three of them.
1. They need revenue, or money. 2. You have to farm out what you don't want to do, hire others to do this work. 3. It's important for your business to stand out, look different from your competitors. You'd think it would be easy for my students to figure out the meanings with such blatant paraphrases. Not necessarily. I had them do the exercises for homework and go over the answers in groups. Then, I called on them for answers. I find it very difficult to get Japanese students to speak aloud in class. Sometimes I offer mini candy bars to those who dare to ask questions and most won't. Anyway, if they recognize the explicitness in our language, this will help build their vocabulary and listening comprehension. There simply isn't time to rush to a dictionary. Also, next week, this group will be presenting ideas and paraphrasing will make their ideas clear to the audience. Any non-native who presents in the fashion that native speakers do, with topic sentences, transitions, and redundancy, will have little trouble communicating despite difficulties with pronunciation.