Friday, September 11, 2015

Orientation Days 9 & 10: English Teaching & Learning

Tuesday & Wednesday, September 8-9, 2015

I am going to combine Tuesday's and Wednesday's activities into one blog post because they have the same theme: English teaching training sessions by State Department officials. Three ladies from the U.S. Embassy have come to teach us strategies for effective teaching, classroom management, cooperative learning, and web engagement. For the most part, it’s been really interesting to learn about how Turkish students and classrooms are different from American students and classrooms. Turkish students often show up late and can sometimes be unmotivated; but they also love and respect their American teachers and don’t hesitate to illustrate their affection. For every session, we had to complete activities that at times felt a bit childish to us. For example, the lady conducting the “Cooperative Learning Techniques” training made us complete cross word puzzles, a describe-and-draw activity, and “Find someone who____” activity—all of which would hopefully encourage our students to speak English and practice conversational vocabulary.

One lady told us about the power of nursery rhymes; repetition helps remember phrases and words that can trigger more grammar and vocabulary learning. Everyone recalled their favorite nursery rhyme from kindergarten or pre-school; my favorite rhymes have always been Humpty Dumpty and Mary Had a Little Lamb. In Turkey, kids grow up to “Ali Baba'nın çiftliği” (Ali Baba’s Farm). It’s similar to the American “Ole McDonald Had a Farm” which teaches kids about animals and their sounds. The Ali Baba song was quite catchy, if I must say so myself.

Check it out here:

On Tuesday, September 8th, we were scheduled to learn Turkish folk dancing and have a “Turkish Night” that evening. However, due to news about an attack on a police minibus, in which 14 police officers died, dance activities were cancelled to pay respect to families in mourning. The news about the attack concerned some Fulbrighters and many of them expressed interest in discussing more security measures. The very next day on Wednesday, the Turkish Fulbright Commission invited back the security officials from the State Department to answer any student questions and concerns about security. After 1.5 hours of repetitive advice from the security officials about avoiding rallies, dangerous situations, and eastern parts of the country, executive director Dr. Professor Ersel Aydinli addressed us for 30 minutes. His advice was simple: be prepared, aware, and use common sense. He said our security was their first priority but they can only take so many measures; they’ve done their part in providing us with as much knowledge, phone numbers, and material as they can—it is now up to us to use our common sense and look out for one another. He was right.

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