“‘Zombies eats brains?’ No, it’s ‘Zombies eat brains.’”
I don’t fully register what I’ve said to one of my third graders until I continue circulating the classroom at Le Ngoc Han, one of the local primary schools my center partners with throughout the week. I briefly blink, suddenly realizing what I’ve just said, but swiftly resume monitoring.
“Dream job” books were the project of the day. Practicing vocabulary and conjugation, they picked a series of jobs, correctly identifying the verb for the position.
Asian education, Vietnamese in particular, stresses rote memorization, often ignoring creativity. This can often appear in classroom activities. Time after time in my class, students want to copy exactly what I’ve done for an example, even down to the exact coloring on a worksheet. Since language is a fun subject, encouraging interaction, students definitely like to play around. Creativity is one quality I want to cultivate in my students, and so I try to find ways to bring that out in class.
In games, I give out extra points for creativity, like when a student correctly adds extra phrasing in a speaking activity.
On project day, when my third graders are more interested in zombies and warriors than police and fishermen, I can entertain the idea that today they aspire to be a brain-eating zombie.
It’s what you do to get students engaged in the lesson. Language is something to be lived. Plus, it’s just more fun.