Crystal Kusey

ESL Services at UT
ELP Intermediate (Section 4B) Reading and Discussion
October 27, 2009

Class Observation and Report
Before I observed this particular class, I looked up information
about the English Language Program (ELP) on-line. This program is
designed for people who wish to expand their English for
communication, study, business, pleasure, etc. This program offers
four core courses. The core course that I observed was an Intermediate
Reading and Discussion group which meets every Tuesday and
Thursday from 1:00-3:15.
Before the class observation:
I met the instructor before class to discuss overall goals as well
as goals for that day’s lesson. The overall goal of the course is to
improve reading comprehension skills, increase vocabulary and
reading speed, and develop discussion skills. The goal of that day’s
lesson was to work on reading strategies: scanning, identifying main
ideas, and understanding details. The instructor mentioned that there
are only 10 people in the class and almost all of them are between the
ages of 18-20 (with the exception of one man who is about 25 and one

She appears to be genuinely interested in hearing their thoughts and she laughs with them when they make funny remarks.) Then she hands out strips of paper with five discussion questions that pertain to the topic of bullies. The instructor walks around from group to group and listens. She seems to be creating a positive environment in which to learn. She elicits more responses from the students and scaffolds them as needed. It seems as though she employs an integrated focus on form approach to error correction because “the learner’s attention is drawn to language form during communicative or content-based instruction” (Lightbrown and Spada. they share their ideas . 186). where the primary focus is on meaning. All of the students call out the answers in unison. During the observation: The instructor starts the class by picking up one assignment that was due and they check three other assignments together. They are all at pretty much the same level. (The chapter in the textbook that they check was about bullies. Students appear to be comfortable and engaged. for example “Why do you think children become bullies?” and “What would you do if someone bullies your child?” Students get into groups of two to discuss their opinions on these questions.woman who is in her 30’s). After the students discussed these questions in groups. although there is some slight variation. 2008 p.

If the students make any errors. students begin their timed reading exercises with the SRA Reading Laboratory. After the students complete each section on their own. Students work on the color that corresponds to their current reading level. and the third section is on drawing conclusions from the information given. It also seems like she’s more interested in having them speak freely than correctly. The instructor appears to be promoting learner autonomy through strategies training (Rivera-Mills and Plosky. Next the instructor gives students a handout for reading strategy practice. It is evident that reading strategies practice is a core part of this class. 2007)The instructor then allows the students to take a ten-minute break. The instructor elicits more responses with each student.with the rest of the class. The instructor goes around the room and each student answers one of the questions. This is to help the students practice scanning when they read. There are three pages in total and the instructor times them so that they have four minutes . which is great since their levels vary to some degree. The first section is on how to use guide words in a dictionary in order to find words quicker. she doesn’t correct them so as not to embarrass them. This exercise is individualized. they go over their answers together. The last section consists of timed word selections where students get one minute to find as many words as possible. the second section is on studying details in a sentence. After the break.

The instructor walks around the room from group to group listening and eliciting more information. By allowing the students to participate in group exercises. These materials in their original form “allow students to use non-linguistic cues to interpret meaning” (Grellet 1981 as cited in Hadley. This form allows them to see their progress over the course of the semester. 2001 p. the . The instructor divides the class into three groups and they discuss and share their answers to the homework questions about the articles with each other. “What should you worry about?” and “Can the NFL Chief Clean up the Game?” which were both featured in Parade magazine. the instructor caters to both active and reflective learners (Johnson et al. two groups discuss the first article and one group discusses the second article. The students appear to be interested and engaged on the topics they are discussing. 206). The last activity involves authentic news articles that the students read and answered questions on for finish each page. 24). The instructor incorporates authentic articles that acquaint students with real-world language that they will encounter outside of the classroom. These articles are also a great way to introduce the students to the target language culture. 1995 p. It also aids the instructor in determining when each student is ready to move up to the next level (color). For the last fifteen minutes of class. They check their answers and write their results on a form. 1991 as cited in Felder. She also explains questions that students have.

The instructor follows . she elicits more information from the students by asking for examples of diseases that they know about. the instructor asks. the instructor elicits more information by asking.” The instructor asks someone to explain what “identity theft” is. disease. “how does this happen?” Students raise their hands and give their thoughts on how this happens.) She then asks them to give her the examples that are presented in the article. After a student mentions disease. After one student mentions weather. “Why do we worry about weather?” One student says people are worried about global warming. strangers. After one of the students mentions theft. and aids. She asks them about what they are worried about for schema activation. cancer. weather. and theft.” Another student mentions that she’s worried about finding a job when she gets out of school.instructor writes two columns on the board: one titles “NFL Article” and the other titled “What we worry about Article”. three different students come up with heart disease. “You’re lucky if that’s what you’re worried most about. “People worry about things they are uncertain about”. The instructor asks. One student cites an example of when someone steals your credit card number. (One student jokes that he’s worried about “what he will eat for dinner. in which different students respond with sharks. She asks what the main idea is about and students respond. “what kind of theft does the article mention?” One student responds with “identity theft.” The instructor smiles warmly and says.

After one student mentions the union. After the Observation: Immediately following class. Students give the examples of drugs. misbehavior. When I asked whether the activities went as expected. the instructor asks if anyone can explain what a union is. “should they test all players before they play?” Some students respond with “yes” and some with “no” and state their reasons why. After each of these examples she continues to elicit more information to check for comprehension of the article. union contracts. students give several examples. before the students leave she reminds them what they need to have done for class next Tuesday and writes this on the board. She asks what problems are inside the NFL. I stayed and talked with the instructor about how she felt the class went.” She elicits more. “HGH hormone. “what is HGH hormone?” A second student responds by mentioning that it’s a type of steroid.this same protocol on the second column in relation to the NFL article. and changes in the game. The instructor proceeds to ask the students their opinion on this. After one student mentions misbehavior. They briefly talk about steroids. It is now 3:15 and class is over. no one is able to so she explains. She asks “what kind of drugs?” One student responds by saying. she elicits more information by asking them for examples. she mentioned that there wasn’t enough .

Therefore she went through them again together as a group to clarify details. She felt that the other students lost focus as she spoke with each student about their opinions. which she hadn’t planned on doing initially. which appeared to have been missed. One part that she said she didn’t like was the fact that there was too much teacher to student time when students were sharing their ideas about “bullies” to the class. Other than that she felt that the discussion on bullies went rather well and students seemed to like the articles because they were interesting. She plans on using for class next week. She knew when she was planning that the Craig’s List activity might be a little tight. . she walked around and realized that the students answers were “all over the board” and that she wanted to “break it down to help process it”. She said that there wasn’t enough time because she discussed the articles more in depth after the group discussion. Instead. but she wanted to have it there in case there was extra time. She decided to change her plans at the last minute because during the group discussions of the articles.time for neither the Craig’s List activity in which students discuss ads for friends nor the cartoon picture activity where students discuss the ad and what it says about our use of the Internet. she believed that it would have been better to write their answers on the board and bring other students into the discussion.

perhaps because they are used to using electronic dictionary. she didn’t. . this is a strategy she wants them to be able to understand so she will do it again. discussed chapters 12-16 in their novel titled Holes by Louis Sachar and took a vocabulary quiz. she had intended on doing the news article before the break and then doing the timed reading. However she ended up taking a break after the reading strategy practice and switched the news article activity with the timed reading activity. however with regards to strategy practice on using dictionary guidewords. I noticed that on her original lesson plan. In the last class. Nevertheless. students went over homework.For the most part. students will discuss chapters 16-20 in their novel. she said it was because she noticed that some of the students were beginning to feel fatigue and she wanted them to feel energized before the timed-reading. She didn’t realize that this was harder for the students than she thought it would be. When I asked her why she decided to switch these. She switched the timed-reading with the article because she knew the article would needed more time. In the next class. and finish the Craig’s List activity along with the cartoon. scanning. which was difficult for them. she felt that she accomplished her goals of finding the main idea. take a vocabulary test. and making inferences. skimming.

In this way she satisfies two commandments according to Dörnyei and Csizér. She didn’t follow her plans exactly. She also satisfies the sixth commandment. for example when she decided that the students more time for the two articles and when she realized that it would be better to switch a couple of the activities since fatigue was beginning . p. The teacher was very organized and planned all of her activities ahead of time. The instructor created an environment that was conducive to learning in which all the students appeared to feel at ease due to her warm. but allowed room for flexibility based on the students’ needs. relaxed atmosphere in the classroom” and to “develop a good relationship with the learners” (Dörnyei and Csizér. friendly personality and also because she was approachable and appeared to possess a genuine interest in hearing her students opinions. 215). One thing that I learned from this instructor related to planning and adapting those plans to fit the students’ needs.Reflection/Conclusion: I felt very fortunate to have been able to observe this class. She also planned extra activities in case there was extra time remaining. which are to “create a pleasant. such as current articles from Parade magazine and using Craig’s List as a reading source. because she makes the class interesting through the use of authentic materials.

which allow the students to practice their language skills. She broke the class up into groups on two separate occasions. She appeared to be extremely patient and waited for the students to come up with their responses. In this way she provides communicative activities. It appears that this instructor is in tune with her student’s needs. In fact I may have to copy her and use Craig’s List later in my own teaching! Another thing that I really liked about her class was the fact that she incorporates a little bit of strategies training into every lesson in order to promote learner autonomy. She incorporated many things that I liked into only a two-hour lesson. I believe this instructor to be highly effective and someone to whom I can use as a set in. It also allows for a more learner-centered classroom. providing . Another thing that she did well related to task-based learning through group work. The thing that I learned most from this classroom observation experience was to watch how she elicits information from the students. The idea of using Craig’s List as an authentic source of reading material had never occurred to me. including proper planning. The instructor made good use of authentic materials.

535548. 2. S. Teaching language in context (3rd ed. (2007). (2008). O. Learning and teaching styles in foreign and second language education. Hadley. K. Z. Foreign Language Annals. Language Teaching Research. M. 42. Boston: Heinle and Heinle. .authentic and interesting materials. A. & Plonsky. creating a learner-centered environment.). 21-31. (2001). P. Ten commandments for motivating language learners: Results of an empirical study. Foreign Language Annals. V. & Lightbown. Spada. Empowering students with language learning strategies: A critical review of current issues. Works Cited: Dörnyei. promoting learner autonomy through strategies training. R. Felder. L. M. employing a communicative approach to learning. 181-207. & Csizér. Form-focused instruction: Isolated or integrated? TESOL Quarterly. Rivera-Mills. N. and using integrated focus on form. 40. 28. allowing group work. (1998). 203-229. (1995).