Reflections on formal observation of my ESOL class

reflectionI’m reasonably pleased with how the class went today. Pinching the warmer off Sam was a good move as it set the topic of the class, which was to review the words the ss have been bringing in every week. It was also a good introduction for the new student to the group as she got to look at all the new words on the board as well as an opportunity to chat with the other ss to find out why they chose their 3 words. Recording the feedback onto the WB also provided a reference point throughout the lesson, which helped to stress four main aspects to ‘knowing’ a new word (meaning, spelling, pron, usage).All students were able to identify words that they have leant in the last half term, and I was pleasantly surprised by how many they can use fairly accurately. This did mean that the worksheet I’d created wasn’t big enough for all the sentences they were able to produce. Monitoring this activity the students were able to see which words they were using accurately, sometimes they needed just a small tweet (those pesky articles!!) but sometimes the sentence showed that they understood the meaning, but still not fully how to use it. For example ‘he retaliated with his feelings’. I didn’t want to record every score onto the WB as this may have embarrassed some ss, so I took a very quick pole and recorded the average within the class:

  • Can write a sentence – 10 (the least was 6, and this was from the student who said she learnt the words using LCWC, which shows she’s not been focusing on the meaning)
  • Know meaning- 8
  • Don’t know it – 6.


I’m not sure how well the class discussion went after this and I hadn’t anticipated how difficult the ss would find it to say why they knew some words better than others. But the WB work from earlier in the lesson came in useful and ss were able to talk about how some words are easier than others, some more common and how others had more than one meaning. This also gave me a chance to elicit about part of speech, and the importance of this in knowing how to use a word. With the class running a little over I had to make a decision about how to adapt the plan. In hindsight I’m not sure I made the correct decision. I chose the mingling activity for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they’d just spent over 30 mins writing de-contextualised sentences alone which is quite intense work, so the mingling activity would be a change of pace. The questions were also designed to get them to think about how they find and learn new words and to discuss this. however, had we done the other planned task, which was to think about what they want to know about a new word, this may have linked better to the next activity, which was to create the poster. However, feedback to this task was once again aided by the work on the WB and we were able to get some ideas about what they find useful to learn new words.

The final task was to design and create a poster. Letting ss self select into their own groups depending on their own interest worked well and there was a good balance of skills (and languages) within each group. Three ss created a poster for the word ‘emphasis’ and included all the things we’d discussed (spelling, phonetic script, definition, sample sentence, some related words) when they looked online for a possible imagine they discovered that they couldn’t find one and maybe wouldn’t be useful for this particular word. The 2nd group created a poster giving rules and advice for bringing new words to the class, and again they were able to show awareness of what they need to think about to ‘know’ a new word.

It’s often difficult to know what ‘to do’ when the ss are working, and doubly so when being observed! So I was very conscious that I was keeping my distance from the 2 groups. I knew they were on task, and they know how to ask when they need something, so they worked fairly independently.

My initial reflection on this lesson was quite gloomy, I thought I’d made the wrong choice when adapting the lesson, I didn’t think my instructions were so good, i was disappointed that they’d been unable to say more clearly about how they learn new words. However, later in the day I’m feeling more upbeat about it. I learnt that the ss still want to be able to bring and share new words, I have evidence that they can identify what they find useful when learning new words, and after sharing this week’s words they’ve asked for more time to do this, as just giving the definition with no other information isn’t helpful! Finding the workbook from Jason Renshaw is going to prove invaluable as I’ll introduce this next week and it covers everything we’ve been saying in class today. For the stronger ss who knew more of the words, I think they are doing many of these things anyway, but it will give support to the weaker ss to help them with self study.

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