A letter to the teachers of English: 53Some more useful activities for the vacation [Archives:2004/758/Education]

July 26 2004

Dr..M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])
Associate Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb.

Dear fellow teachers,
In the last letter, I suggested that you reflect on your classroom teaching of last year in order to freshen up for the next year. I also pointed out that you read and listen to English more and more so that your fluency in reading and listening to English increases. If you happen to travel abroad, make use of English more often so that your communicative skills improve. In this letter, I am suggesting two more activities exclusively for the benefit of the teachers of English, for the vacation.
One of them is preparing a glossary for your Pupil's Book. A glossary, as defined by the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of 1996, is 'a list of technical or special words, especially those occurring in a text, explaining their meanings'. In other words, it is a list of words and their meanings in the contexts in which they occur. It is like a dictionary because it provides the meanings of words, but it is different from it in that it does not give all the meanings of a word but only the meaning of a word in the context in which it is used. A glossary is, therefore, of immediate use to a teacher of English.
I am aware that you have no time to prepare a glossary during the school days and the vacation is the right time for it. You know well the important words in each lesson because of your experience of teaching it; take down each of these words from a lesson and with the help of a good dictionary, prepare a glossary, taking down only the meaning of that word in the context it has been used in the lesson. For example, the word 'date' has at least 6 different meanings, but in Pupil's Book 1 page 22, it is used in the meaning of 'a sweet brown sticky fruit that grows on the palm tree'; the word 'get' has about 30 different meanings, but in Pupil's Book 5 page 7, it is used in the meaning of 'reach'.
In addition to the meaning, if you are interested, take down from the dictionary the sentence in which it is used to make sure that your students understand the meaning clearly; alternatively, you can write down your own sentence using the word. For each lesson, you will have to choose about 10 to 15 words; you need not choose the word, if it is repeated in another lesson. This means that your glossary for a Pupil's Book will have about 100 to 150 words, which can be prepared in about 2 to 3 hours spread over a week, roughly. The advantages you will have of this glossary are going to be manifold, I am sure. The most important of these will be the confidence with which you enter your class; furthermore, you can avoid using Arabic unnecessarily; then there is the benefit of your increasing your own vocabulary as a byproduct of referring to a dictionary. You can also help your colleagues who teach the same class in another school. Think of its benefit for a teacher who teaches in a village school, where there are no facilities like a dictionary or another teacher of English or someone else to consult.
Please think seriously about my suggestion, which benefits you and your learners to a very large extent. Even if you are lucky to work in a school where there are dictionaries and you have access to them, a glossary is of immense and immediate help to you. The time invested on its preparation is time well spent, which you will realize after the successful completion of the task. Get at it! Good luck.
Yours fraternally,