Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Week 15: Definition Paragraphs


And finally...drum roll please...the last paragraph lesson!  This final type of paragraph organization is definition.  I thought this one might be a bit boring, but, as it turns out, I found some quite good material online to supplement what the book taught; I think this is the most thorough and well-thought-out explanation of the concepts that I've done yet.  Which means, it probably was boring.  But anyways...

I won't bore you with all the details of the lesson.  The main gist is to practice writing paragraph that explain the meaning of something: a concept, a holiday, a ceremony, a type of person, an occupation or role.  Objects usually end up just being a description.

Anyhow, the fun part of class was, as usual, after the main lesson.  I made a rather weak tie-in: "I am defining the meaning of a holiday: Thanksgiving."  Really, it was more of just a description...


The students, having already studied English for about eight years now, have of course already heard of Thanksgiving and know the basic idea, so I didn't repeat the whole Pilgrim and Indian story; they heard it last year.  I focused more on what we do on the actual day.  I showed them pictures from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; they were really impressed with the humongous balloons. I also showed them how to trace your hand and make a turkey drawing, which they thought was cute.

Food is always a popular point of discussion; Thanksgiving food especially so, because they don't eat turkey here.  None of my students have ever seen or tasted a turkey.  Also, food here (since you're going to have to eat it with chopsticks) comes to the table already cut into bite-sized pieces. I think the photo I've gotten the biggest reaction out of both in Jingzhou and here is the photo of the whole roasted turkey on the table from Thanksgiving 2009.

I also explained the wishbone tradition, which they thought was just a bit gross, really--pulling on a slimy bone. Probably, I haven't done it myself in years.

Then, of course, it's always good to try to focus minds on the important things in life.  I taught them the phrase "count your blessings,"  and gave them a few minutes to think of things they were thankful for, then I had them take turns telling the things they are thankful for.  You do have to specify that you can't just say "I'm thankful for my family and friends," but intead should be specific.  What about your friend are you thankful for? What does your mother do that makes you thankful for her?  They did really well, though; my students in Jingzhou needed prodding to say more than two or three words, but my students here I more often have to try to cut off; they'll talk and talk.  One students did try to butter me up by saying he was thankful for me and for the English parties I've been organizing.

And one last picture for you...Thanksgiving 2001.  Is 2001 really eleven years ago already?











Anyways, happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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