◆ALC Kiddy CAT Pastel Room◆ Ms. Yukiko Osada （Hakusan City, Ishikawa Pref.）
I am a teacher of the ALC Kiddy CAT English School. I used the B Course materials for elementary school age students, which was written by Ms. Ritsuko Nakata, so I was somewhat familiar with MAT.
I only knew that it was supposed to be good to teach verbs with gestures to get better retention. However, two years ago I attended the IIEEC-OUP Teacher Training Certificate Course and the MAT 2-day Seminar and found out that the real meaning of MAT was much deeper.
Up until then, I only followed what was in the curriculum: the order of teaching Vocabulary, Sentences and Question Forms. But, since I had not taught the vocabulary in a proper way, I had to struggle at the next step when I taught the sentence pattern.
When it came to teaching the question form, I only had the students repeat after me and could not proceed to the pair practice. Although I had gotten used of teaching after seven years since opening my school, I still did not have confidence in my ability to teach and was not satisfied with what I was doing. Even some mothers had some harsh words for me, “I don’t think my child is remembering much.”
As mentioned before, children do not learn through just repetition and easily get bored. So I eagerly did a lot of games to keep the attention of my students. I usually used vocabulary games such as snap (karuta) and bingo games. I wanted them to say the words as they got the cards, but the kids were so engrossed in the games, they did not follow the rules I made. This made things worse and there was even less speaking by the students.
At the Certificate Program (CP) and MAT Seminar, I learned that I was only playing games for fun without any real purpose.
At the CP, we were taught simple games that needed no preparation but could be used immediately using the target language. I was shocked at the simplicity but effectiveness of doing the Rock, Scissors, Paper game for practicing the sentence and question. I went back and tried it immediately in my classes and found that the students could do Q&A naturally and were having a good time.
After I started using MAT seriously in my classes, the first thing I noticed was the sparkle in my students’ eyes. The tempo of my lessons speeded up and at the same time, I noticed a big change in my attitude toward teaching. Previously, it was a struggle to go through the curriculum and I was not really looking at how each of my students was doing.
Some were pretending to say things and moving their mouths, others were not doing the gestures. After I changed my lessons to MAT, I find that I don’t have to disrupt the lessons anymore by scolding or telling my students what to do.
My lessons are now speedy and rhythmical and have a routine so that I can now have time to do Review lessons, which I could never do before.
Even after attending the MAT training courses, I found myself slipping back to my own ways, so I go to the IIEEC Study Group Meetings. Because these meetings help me keep up with MAT, even the events I have for my students have drastically changed. My husband, who is in charge of video taping these events said, “It used to be just a fun gathering, but now these events really have progressed and have a real purpose.”
One of the goals in the MAT METHOD is “Talk”. I try to have my students talk about their feelings, what they are thinking, say opinions in English, and I truly feel that I can accomplish all these things using the Model Action Talk Method.