Adverbs of manner, and beyond

As ESL teachers, we’re all familiar with the term ‘adverbs of manner’ and its standard textbook definition, but what are we to make of utterances like ‘Think big’, ‘Stand firm’, ‘Live green’, ‘Aim high’, etc.? And should we say ‘She arrived at the hotel safe’ or ‘She arrived at the hotel safely’? Is ‘right’ in ‘He did it right’ an adverb of manner or not? Is the slogan ‘Live happy’ in Citiplaza, a huge shopping mall, acceptable?

Today, I taught a Secondary One lesson titled ‘Adverbs of manner, and beyond’, using a language awareness approach. I tried a BLIND Kahoot to guide Ss to understand the subtleties of sentences like the ones above.

It was my first attempt to use a Blind Kahoot for that purpose, and although the lesson didn’t play out as effectively as I had hoped, it was a useful learning experience to me, and it pointed to a few issues that I have to consider more carefully if I am to try something similar again in the future. Thanks to Miss Ani Chan for giving me the opportunity to try out the lesson with her students.

Anyway, I finished the lesson by showing the picture below to the students, and asked them what word was behind the guy, and the status of that word in the utterance.

So, with secondary-school students, let’s go beyond telling them that “An adverb of manner is an adverb (such as quickly or slowly) that describes how and in what way the action of a verb is carried out.” 


Pedagogical explorations

每次看見老師分享他們的教學嘗試、意念,和經驗,都覺得很興奮。英文有a teacher’s repertoire of teaching skills 一詞,去形容教師的一身本領; 不斷的嘗試,等如不斷增加自己的教學板斧,令自己更能應付各種教學情況,教學效能更高。教學本應就是專業嘛。


Perfect lessons may not be the best stimulus for professional learning

The tryout lesson yesterday was far from perfect, but it was a useful professional development experience for me. I have been exploring ways to use technology to enhance the development of students’ higher–order reading skills. In yesterday’s lesson, I tried out a couple of e-learning tools and higher-order reading tasks, for the first time. The lesson revealed a few things I had not anticipated well enough, such as trying to cover too many activities in one lesson; not leaving enough time to guide students to reflect on a task after it was finished; not being prepared enough for technical hiccups, …
But these are useful reminders for future explorations.

(The methodology literature usually suggests using teacher-led questioning, or teacher’s think-aloud demonstrations, to develop students’ higher-order reading skills. Another common practice is to include higher-order items in the reading comprehension exercises. My observation is that less assertive/motivated students may not benefit much from such activities. This is an area where I believe technology might help, and that is what I’m exploring.)

Teaching can be enjoyable

A most uplifting Friday morning as I observed an exemplary lesson which made superb use of group work for conducting reading comprehension tasks. This magnificent outcome didn’t just happen by chance. It was the result of sufficient prior group work training for the students, and ingenious planning of the group activities. The students were deeply engaged throughout, learning effectively and joyfully.

Two thoughts came to mind after the lesson. First, for teachers who are able to bring about meaningful learning, teaching is a truly professional job, because they need specialist knowledge and skills, creativity, and judgment. Second, if you’re able to pull off great lessons in the classroom and see that your students are learning eagerly and happily, teaching is one of the most enjoyable activities in the world.


Boy students vs Girl students

我一直以為女教師較喜歡教女學生,因為女孩子較聽話易教,男孩子則較懶散、善忘、restless, 直至最近在不同場合和幾位女教師閒談,發現也有女教師比較喜歡教男生的,我有點詫異,加以追問; 她們便說出一連串男孩子的優點,好教的地方。


今年我的pgde班男學員超過三分之一,這以英文組來說是很罕見的,但classroom dynamics 完全不同,課室多了很多笑聲,全組也變得super~energetic, 雖然間中我要花多點氣力把他們冷静下來。


前兩天談到九月份對教師來說如何難捱,昨天一位教小學的舊學生卻說她每天都渴望回校工作! 她的秘密是什麼?

Teachers and altruism

Over dinner tonight, I asked Principal Lam what gave her all that infinite passion for education. Among her reflection and explication, the following remark stood out:

“When I see that I can make a difference in my students’ lives, it gives me a great sense of reward.”

In a world which is becoming more and more materialistic and individualistic, it is tempting for people, whatever endeavour they embark on, to ask: “What’s in it for me?” But I do believe that education, in its truest sense, requires its practitioners to be altruistic to some extent. We become teachers because we want to do good, however small, to others.

But this is the exact question that has been puzzling me for years. As a teacher educator, besides training education students with the pedagogy, say in my case, TESOL methodology, what can I do to nurture in teachers a spirit of service and commitment? For what is education if we have no intention of making a difference in our students’ lives?