This is an ordinary post – no point, no climax. Just a description of what happened in class.
The other day my youngest students were doing a project called My Favourite Animal/My Pet. I asked them to include lots of text and some hand-made illustrations or other visuals. I handed out two types of bilingual dictionaries and I also encouraged them to feel free to come to my table and use my PC if they struggled to find some words in the paper dictionaries. On the computer, I opened two tabs – a bilingual dictionary and Google.
Very few actually ended up using the paper dictionaries; there was a long queue in front of my computer instead. I noticed that some of the students had trouble working with the online bilingual dictionary so I tried to help whenever I could. For example, I showed them that they can listen to a word’s pronunciation and thus remember it better. Honestly, I had assumed that they were familiar with such things already but apparently, I was wrong.
One girl wanted to find the English equivalent for a Czech word (a name of an animal). We used all the bilingual dictionaries but found no entries of such a word. Then I revealed a trick I sometimes use with names of animals and plants – I look up the Latin expression first and then it’s much easier to find the English one. With this method, we finally managed to find the word okapi.
Some students used the Google option a lot, mostly to look up pictures of animals they were planning to draw. One boy, however, came up with a tweak. He opened the Google Translate tab to look up longer expressions. The thing is that I’d forgotten to tell the students that it’s difficult to find two-word expressions in a bilingual dictionary so some of them ended up a little confused. However, the boy immediately gave a hand to everybody who’d failed to find a phrase or a longer expression. Ironically, this boy is often criticized for using his mobile too much – during breaks as well as in lessons. The truth is though that he proved to be more tech savvy than the rest of the class, which, of course, is the result of him spending a lot of time online.
So apart from practicing their English, especially their writing skills, the students hopefully learned some other important skills, which they can use later in the course.