These days I’ve been having some trouble getting students to understand what the English Worksheet is for. A few have understood it, but most have walked away from the class not understanding what the worksheet is for, what is expected of them, or how the worksheet will fit into their learning.
The problem is that even though the class was primarily English (two semesters of high school and four semesters of college) my students were reading to me in Spanish. In this case the English class was basically just a way to pass the time. So I wasn’t showing my students any particular concern with this at the time.
But after several semesters of learning English as a second language I was starting to see the same pattern repeat itself: students who thought they knew more English than they actually did. And I didn’t want to just have them memorize an English worksheet. I wanted to engage them and give them a chance to really apply what they’d learned.
So I went looking for a way to encourage these students to take an active role in the English worksheet. The way I found it the best way to do this was to make it a real workbook. You can’t get more active than to turn the English worksheet into a regular, full-length tome.
This means the student has to be willing to read it, and then work on it. It also means the teacher needs to encourage them to take part. By asking the student to do something a little more than reading, the student will be more inclined to get out there and do it.
And I would go through the worksheet with the class to make sure we had the students engaged in the process. And I would also ask questions to see if I could uncover areas where they were still struggling. Sometimes it was just the fact that they couldn’t figure out how to use a sentence. Other times it was the fact that they simply did not understand the meaning of the sentence.
The best way to know when it’s time to move on to the next worksheet is when the student gets frustrated with the process. It might be that a student doesn’t understand why he or she is reading the whole thing, or that a student wants to do something more than just read. So just being clear about why it’s happening will help the student move on to the next worksheet.
At the end of the day I’m more interested in helping my students learn English than I am in just passing the time. So in those instances I want to make sure they’re actively involved in the process, and that I’m encouraging them to do it. And I need to give them a reason to.