The scenario in this observation report involves an in-depth discussion of an English program for the international staff working at a university. Specifically, the three-month program is for adults and takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The native language of most of the international staff is Spanish hence the need for the English program. Two-thirds of the attendees were involved in the program for the second time.
The lesson began by greeting from the instructor to the teachers and the teachers responded jovially with all their heads raised. The instructor walked around the class then went back and stood at the front then came up with a joke to keep the class in a non-tensed mood ready to learn. The instructor came up with a sentence which he read aloud to the attendees to ensure that everyone got him clearly. The essence of this was to come up with a vocabulary, which he taught in the previous class. For instance, 'expertise and knowledge of personnel drive the success of learning institutions'. 'Expertise and knowledge' were the set of words that the instructor was testing as he taught them in the previous lesson. The instructor ensured that the teachers made minimal mistakes during the dictation by reading each sentence slowly thrice. Even though some teachers were asking questions as the instructor was dictating, they were advised to wait up to the end of the dictation process. Eventually, the instructor assigned each teacher the task of writing one of the sentences on the whiteboard as other teachers corrected any errors made.
For the instructor to ensure that the teachers became well versed with pronunciation, he used a diagram. In the diagram, he pointed at the place of articulation as he pronounced the phonemes. Some of the letters that were challenging for the teachers to pronounce appropriately comprised of /f/, /t/ and /s/. After equipping the class with information regarding pronunciation, the instructor took it upon himself to divide the class into six groups consisting of four members each. Moreover, each of the groups had one phoneme for the pronunciation purposes. When the instructor pronounced the phonemes of /sin/ and /tin/, the different groups had the opportunity to answer appropriately. Upon completion of this activity, the instructor explained to the teachers the minimal pair concept by asking them to follow him in pronouncing the words. In essence, the teachers were allowed to choose some words given in the minimal pair written in a 4 by 4 square. As the instructor was calling out the words, the teachers could shout after him to show a proper understanding of what was being taught and the instructor would nod his head in way of approving or disapproving the responses given. Another activity focused on pronouncing the past tense of different words ending with (-ed). In this lesson, the teachers presented class conversations that they prepared previously. During the presentation the instructor could come in to help the teachers establish the difference between voiced letters like /d/ where the cords vibrate and voiceless ones such as /t/ in which the vocal cords do not vibrate by putting his fingers around his vocal cords. During the whole exercise I realized that the instructor stayed in the same position for the better part of the lesson and this was mainly to enhance concentration since continuous movements would distract the class. The instructor ensured that the space between him and the class was enough for the communication to take place and sounds get to the teachers.
In the whole process, the instructor maintained eye contact with the teachers to enable them do whatever is required and avoid any mess or a sense of confusion and make them be more attentive. Importantly, the instructor gave clearly set rules governing regular past tense verbs with voiced and voiceless consonants. The teachers were then required to provide examples of such verbs and pronounce them appropriately. However, the instructor noted that some of the teachers had problems with spelling and pronunciation thereby calling for the need to help them correct the errors by their colleagues. A notable problem was depicted when a teacher pronounced called as /kolid/, which the instructor corrected immediately. The teacher did not make a similar mistake anymore. By putting fingers around the vocal cords, it showed an aspect of gesture that would depict whether the words are voiced or voiceless. Concisely, to assess the level of knowledge gained by the teachers from the lesson, the instructor asked each of them to pronounce the words taught and in case one pronounces any word incorrectly, they were asked to stand up. The teachers also corrected the instructor when his pronunciation was incorrect, which he did on purpose. A proper synthesis of the information could be seen from the reactions of the instructor, when he pretended not to have heard the class in order for them to repeat the correct pronunciation. The instructor smiled and leaned forward slightly indicating that he was happy with the progress made by the teachers and raised his right thumb showing satisfaction. By doing so, the instructor ensured that confusion was avoided, as well as spelling and pronunciation mistakes that would arise either in the short-term or long-run and might bring forth adverse consequences on the operational standards of the international staff.
Throughout the class, I noticed the instructor's growing concern regarding the need to ensure that the teachers get up and move around when being taught as this makes the class energetic and creates an accommodative atmosphere for learning. The instructor allowed the teachers to engage in the class physically for ten minutes before the lesson was restarted to attract attention and re-energize them for the remaining time. When this happens, the teachers will not get bored with the lecture notwithstanding the duration it takes.
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