Learning more than the content ….

20160928_113031This 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.


About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for almost 25 years and I still love my job. You can find out more about my passion here on my blog.
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3 Responses to Learning more than the content ….

  1. Sandy Millin says:

    Insights into the classroom are exactly why your blog is so interesting Hana. One of my favourite things to do in lessons is to introduce students to the wonders of online learner’s dictionaries. It’s very rare that they’ve ever seen one before. My trick for animals and other things it’s hard to translate is to look them up on Wikipedia in the relevant language, then use the language options to take me to the equivalent page. I’d never thought of going via Latin!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hana Tichá says:

      Thanks, Sandy. I’m glad you find my insights interesting. 🙂 Yes, you’re right – Wikipedia can be a useful tool for looking up English equivalents and I think I’ve used it for this purpose a couple of times too.


  2. Saarah Na'Allah says:

    The title of this post really captivated me. The ability to go to class and learn more than what the material covers. To be able to apply that new knowledge to experiences and real world problems, examples, and solutions. That is really powerful.
    Thank you~
    I actually have a blog post called education reform that my be of interest to you. I would appreciate your input if you had the time.

    Liked by 1 person

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