Written by: Magdalena Tsavkova, Krassimira Chakarova
American College of Sofia
In this article we would like to present some classroom activities that combine language with content learning we use in our school. The American College of Sofia has established a long-time tradition of teaching all academic subjects in English. Plunging students in a 100% English language environment encourages and requires their continuous improvement of understanding and communication skills. We are aware of the difficulties, which our students meet, especially after their first preparatory year at the College. To make the transition to higher-grade level smooth in the last three years we introduced a one-semester science course in grade eight. The purpose of the course is not so much to teach specific knowledge but rather introduce some basic vocabulary and lab skills. Our experience shows that students in the prep year enjoy this course and benefit a lot from it – they come more motivated and enthusiastic to study science. Here is a short course syllabus:
Science in the preparatory class
- Subject matter of science
- Working in the science lab
- Separations lab
- Density lab
- Physical properties of matter
- Chemical change
- Pigments lab
- Flower dissection. Plant parts lab
- Tree observation
- Snow study
- Science in the news
- Science projects
Another approach for ensuring science success is establishing standard criteria for assessment. In the students’ handbook and College web site http://www.acs.bg/ this information can be found.
We would like to recommend the web site http://www.beyonddiscovery.org/, which is a wonderful resource for various topics in a format suitable to be used both in science and English language classes.[↑]
Making memorizing easy and fun
Memorizing can’t be avoided in our classes but here are some examples of how it can be made fun for students:
- Sentence construction activity: Students are divided into groups. Each group receives an envelope with pieces of sentences (the teacher needs to type and cut the sentences in advance) The group of students which first arranges all the sentences correctly is the winner. This activity could be applied for learning definitions, rules or even lows and formulas.
- The omega competition: Another example of a fun activity is to make students apply their knowledge in creating or “reading” drawings which combine a symbol or a formula with a picture and presents an idiomatic phrase or expression widely used. The W symbol stands for the unit which measures resistance in physics. It is pronounced “ohm” and can be involved in the following ways:ΩC6H12O6Ω which is literally “ohm” the formula of glucose “ohm” and because of the sweet taste of glucose should be read as: “Ohm sweet Ohm!” evidently corresponding to the expression “Home, sweet home!”
Or, what is this? Ω = F.d Of course, for everybody who knows the definition of mechanical work it is “Ohm = work”. Simply it stands for” Homework”.
Such activities can not only make learning and memorizing easier but also give a break for students who face difficulties with the applying science concepts.