Thursday, 25 April 2013

The (alternative) Easter Story

To teach the Christian beliefs or not to teach them? That is the Question.
Especially at Easter and Christmas.

My personal feeling (and I am a Christian) is that if the students are living Great Britain, whatever their religion it is helpful for them to understand some of the background to the otherwise bizarre rituals they see here during the major Christian festivals.

I always takes pains to emphasise that not everybody in Britain is a practising Christian (far from it) but that everybody knows the basic facts. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and Easter his crucifixion and resurrection. I have never had any trouble with this approach. On the contrary, I receive more Christmas cards from my Muslim students every year than from any other group. Anyway, it ticks off that 'Citizenship' box on my Scheme of Work very nicely!

This year, as usual, I taught Easter traditions to all my classes. If you haven't discovered this website, it's brilliant for lessons themed around special days, and I used several of the resources. I've just revisited the site to check the link for you and found work on World Penguin Day. It's today! What a shame it's my day off!

The lesson I have in mind was with my Sixth Form class. (I currently have 3 groups- Entry 1 adults, CAE au pairs and Entry3/Level 1 Sixth Formers so you can imagine my approach had to be different for each class).

I wanted to teach both the Christian and the 'secular' traditions so I started by describing in brief what Christians believe happened on each day from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. It was a student who used the phrase "He died for our sins", not me so I asked this student to explain what it meant. (Cop out, I know, but I didn't feel up to a full theological explanation) Well, she was doing very well, although the young Nepali she was debating with ewas having none of it, when another girl interjected
"So, where does the Bunny fit in?"

What's the difference between Yours Faithfully and Yours Sincerely?

How many times have you been asked this question?
Recently, I was asked by a 6th form student from West Africa. I repeated for the nth time my standard answer; "Sincerely is when you know the recepient's name. Faithfully is when you start your formal letter with Dear Sir/Madam"
I added my not-very-useful way of remembering it "You cannot write SIR and SINCERELY in the same letter" Does anyone know a better mnemonic?
Anyway, this African boy responded unexpectedly; "In Africa we use Yours Faithfully in a polite formal letter and Yours Sincerely in an angry complaining letter."
I didn't know that. I found it interesting. I can imagine this confusion resulting in a lot of tribal/colonial lashes in the past!

Welcome to my world.

Hi! Welcome to my brand new ESOL blog.
I have been blogging as a hobby for about 4 years (check out my personal blog dedicated to my crafting and family life here) and I have been thinking for a while about creating one about my work.

So here goes nothing. I'm planning to keep this running for the remainder of the current academic year and then see how I feel. Whether I continue will depend on the response I get and whether it feels too much like extra work! So please comment, positively or negatively. I love reading your comments

Pictures may be thin on the ground - it's not really done to whip your camera phone out mid-lesson - but this is one of our students collecting their certificates fromt he Mayor of Woking last September

This is not a 'teaching blog'. It is a blog about teaching. I am no guru. I am not going to tell you how to teach. I'm just someone who has been doing this teaching thing for 20 years and still enjoys it. I consider myself lucky to have a job where I meet so many interesting people and do something different every day. Rarely does a week go by without me learning something new, so that is what I plan to share. If you pick up some ideas for your own classes along the way, that's fab. Please let me know how they went.

I'm assuming most of you are also teachers, but that may not be the case. Please leave a comment to introduce yourselves, and I'll see you soon with my first 'ESOL Experiences'.