Fundación Liceo Inglés is a private bilingual institution that was accredited by SACS some months ago. Some of the teachers who work there, are English native speakers, others are bilingual and there are others who just speak Spanish but who are in the English learning process. Students must communicate in English with the English speaking teachers all the time and teachers must use English all the time with students as well. Students who come from a monolingual school are immersed into a special program. The school only accepts students who do not speak English until fourth grade. There are three school levels: preschool, primary and secondary. English is taught as a subject but it is also used to teach other subjects, such as; math, science and art among others.
I work with second grade teaching math, science, English and art. The main objective in English is to develop the four communicative skills in order to make students competent in this language. The program starts with an emphasis on the oral skills; listening and speaking but as the course advances the emphasis is made in reading and writing too. During all the school year the four skills are worked at almost the same level. My students are between 7 and 9 years old. They belong to a high socio – economical status. Most of them have studied in that school since preschool and others started this year. They are highly motivated for the English learning and they use it for real communication purposes among them and with their teachers as there are some of them who do not speak Spanish.
Some students show weakness in writing sentences and in reading comprehension.
During this academic year students worked in different activities to develop the four communicative skills. They need to develop the four skills in this grade and different activities were carried out in order to get the goal. Even they had a lot of practice; some of them still show weakness in writing and reading skills. That is why these tasks are presented here.
To provide students with the opportunity to write short descriptive sentences so they can improve their writing skill.
To allow students to demonstrate their ability to get details from a reading text.
To motivate students to the English learning through authentic tasks.
The teacher has a class discussion about domestic animals or animals that are used as pets. First she asks them to make groups of three and discuss some questions:
What pet do you have? Or would you like to have?
What does that pet need?
How can you take good care of that pet?
Then students report their discussion to the rest of the class.
After that she provides students with a reading and asks them to answer some questions: Task 1 Reading: Read the text “On the job with Dr. Martha Smith” about a vet that works at an animal shelter taking care of homeless animals. Then answer the questions below related to the reading.
Answer the following questions related to the text “On the job with Dr. Martha Smith”. Give complete information.
1. What kinds of animals are taken to the shelter?
2. How does Dr. Smith take care of the animals?
3. Why does Dr. Smith need to examine animals that come to the shelter?
4. How would you take care of a pet?
Read the following sentences and write true or false according to the text ““On the job with Dr. Martha Smith”. For the false sentences provide the correct information on the line below.
Dr. Smith works at a hospital.
Muffin is the name of a new dog that is in the shelter.
The worker takes the dogs into the shelter.
The two dogs are sick.
Dr. Smith likes working in the shelter.
Task 2 Writing: Pretend that you found an animal that does not have a home. Write a letter to Dr. Smith describing the animal. You need to write sentences telling her what animal you found, where you found it, its color, its size, and why you think the shelter could be a good place for that animal. Use the format below. Write four or five sentences.
Dear Dr. Smith: I’m writing to you because ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Thank you for your time. Sincerely; __________________________________ (Name)
Task 3 Speaking: The teacher makes a list of the animals students named in the class discussion and she asks them to add some others. A list like this one will be the product of that discussion: Dog Cat Fish Bird Rabbit Iguana Hamster Turtle Frog Duck Parrot Monkey Chick Snake Rat Grasshopper Cow Horse Sheep Pig
She asks each student to choose one of the animals from the list. Once they have chosen the animal they need to research for information about that animal on the web or on books. For this activity they need their parents’ help. Students prepare an oral presentation about the animal they chose and present it to the class. They need to talk about the physical characteristics of the animals; where the animal lives, what it eats and how to take care of it when having it as a pet. For the presentation students need to use a poster with pictures of the animal
I had the opportunity to apply this tasks during this term and the results were excellent. Specially in the speaking task. Students’ parents helped them a lot in the development of this task; it was a cooperative task. Before starting to apply the speaking task I was a little worried that the task could not have a positive effect and that maybe parents would not get the time to help their children with it. But they did and students felt highly motivated with this activity.