Any moment is a teachable moment. When a teacher only has three hours or less a day to teach all subjects, it is a challenge. So, any tiny moment can’t be wasted. When choosing lunch, math can be added to the counting. Gradually, a comparison can be made.
Do students yell out things in English? Instead of telling them not to use English, just repeat it in Chinese and put it in a sentence. The language comes from the students, and it’s in a context they can understand. They will remember it better.
I often make a crazy laugh to the kids during early October and expect them to scream “Witch!” at me. “How perfect” I will tell myself, and I will point at myself and keep repeating “巫婆”. Now, they learn a word that is useful during Halloween but has never appeared in the textbook. The best part is that they won’t forget about it due to the context and the way they acquired this new vocabulary.
Once, several students talked about one student being a “smarty-pants”. How exciting! I asked the student to come to the front. I asked him questions, and then expect his “smart” pants to answer me after putting the microphone to his pants. Of course, there was no sound from his pants. I asked him the same questions, and he could answer everything. I turned to the students and asked in Chinese “who is smart, he or the pants?” Everyone laughed and learned to say, “pants are not smart,” “he is smart” in Chinese. Of course, there will be students trying to answer for the pants. Ignore this naughty behavior and reward positive behavior and let the students know your expectations.
一次，几个学生形容另一个学生是个 “smarty-pants”。机不可失，我请这学生站到前方, 把麦克风放到学生膝盖附近问了几个简单的问题，当然裤子不会回答，我问学生同样的 问题，这个学生回答了每个问题，接着我问所有学生，是裤子聪明还是他聪明，笑得开怀的学生大声回答“他很聪明，裤子不聪明。”当然会有几个调皮的学生想替裤子回答，故意忽略，然后表扬听话认真的小孩就可以让学生知道老师的态度和期许。
When something drops, say it out loud. When thinking of something, say it out loud. When you can’t find something, say it out loud. When you find something, say it out loud.
When the students match your actions with words, everything makes sense to them and they have a better chance to remember the words.
东西掉了，大声的说出来 “啊，掉下去了。”在想事情的时候，也说出来 “我想。。。。” 找不到东西时，也说出来，“我的东西在哪里？”找到了，也大声说找到了或是在这里，学生自然可以从你的行为和言辞找到连贯，由此知道也学会一些课本上不容易教到的词汇。
Students need social language; they need to hear it in daily life and in the most natural setting in order to remember and reuse the language. So, when to teach these social languages? Any moment is a teachable moment. Students are learning all the time. Look for these teachable moments.