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Author Topic: Why 90 minutes?  (Read 2279 times)

Calach Pfeffer

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Why 90 minutes?
« on: February 18, 2014, 05:06:45 AM »
Why?!

Why are "classes" ninety minutes long?

That's not one class, that's two back to back.

Since I realised that and started planning material accordingly, teaching got easier.

But still, why ninety minutes?

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Tree

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2014, 05:34:49 AM »
5-15 minutes for review
20-30 minutes to teach new vocabulary, grammar, sentence patterns
5-10 minutes to test concept absorption
45 for production and other activities

Easy as pie!


I taught 50 minute classes before and that is barely enough time to get anything done, especially as I saw them only once a week.
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The Local Dialect

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2014, 07:08:35 AM »
I teach 40 minute classes, but they're high school classes and I see the kids every day. For my kids age level and ability, 40 minutes is about the limit of what they can take.

In Beijing I used to teach 4 40 minute periods back to back to the same class and it was BRUTAL. The kids could not handle it at all, and these were really high level kids. There is a point when they become fatigued by all the English and going any farther is just unproductive.

xwarrior

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2014, 09:52:44 AM »
Why?!

Why are "classes" ninety minutes long?


Good question, Calach! For those about to sign a contract, it does pay to pause and consider the difference between:

- 12 classes per week
- 12 periods per week
- 12 hours per week
- 12 teaching hours per week

 agagagagag
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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2014, 10:13:39 AM »
Wikipedia ("attention span") tells me adults are capable of about 40 minutes of sustained attention. To make it beyond 40 minutes, they need to take a break and then choose to focus attention again. My estimation for Chinese university students listening to English is 30 minutes. After that the jaw-cracking yawns set in. This seems so even for the students who watch your every move and hang on every word. So, 2x45 mins with a 10-minute break in the middle is at least biologically reasonable, I suppose.

Howevaire...

All my own university education occurred in 50 minute chunks. 50-minute lecture one day, 50-minute tutorial another. As I recall, a quirk of my university was they started everything at 10 past the hour. (I may be misremembering for the sake of story telling.)

Then again, my university days did not have dawn to dusk timetabling. I might have two or three classes a day.

I think the 90-minute standard in China is less about learning and more about directing.

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Stil

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2014, 01:26:53 PM »
Why not?

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2014, 02:20:31 PM »
The humanity.

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kitano

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2014, 02:34:44 PM »
Isn't  it that we teach 2 classes?

I think that 40 or 45 minutes is the standard length for a class everywhere in the world and here English is 2 lessons a week

I quite like the 90 minute classes because you can have the first one as receptive and some light productive activity and then a heavier productive activity with 20 minutes monitoring, 15 minutes sitting on your arse laughing at the rubbish you just got them to say and spare time for anything else

cruisemonkey

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2014, 08:55:28 PM »
Wikipedia ("attention span") tells me adults are capable of about 40 minutes of sustained attention.

Dispite being on Wikipedia that may indeed be true. However, in my experience, dispite their chronological age, Chinese university students are not adults.  kkkkkkkkkk
 bfbfbfbfbf
The Koreans once gave me five minutes notice - I didn't know what to do with the extra time.

Stil

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2014, 11:43:43 PM »
Wikipedia ("attention span") tells me adults are capable of about 40 minutes of sustained attention.

Dispite being on Wikipedia that may indeed be true. However, in my experience, dispite their chronological age, Chinese university students are not adults.  kkkkkkkkkk
 bfbfbfbfbf


Neither are western uni students.

Chinese students may be less socially mature than their western counterparts in general but the are certainly used to more class time upon entering university.

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2014, 01:32:54 AM »
In the olden days when I was still primarily an English teacher, it got to be so that 90 minutes classes were rewarding. That's to say, *I* could come out of the class with a sense that it'd gone well. The first period would be more about knowledge, the second more about practice. Neither period could be completely one or the other though. The real difference was, in theory, the first period finished on a restricted or controlled practice note, and the second ended fully open. I used an idea of pace too. First period had to have at least three change-ups - shift the text, change the activity, move to a new topic, whatev.

So yeah, that's skills classes, or my naive approach to them anyway. It worked out. Once you get used to pacing (and appropriately connecting the parts so that pacing isn't just rushing), then 90 minutes can be a breeze.

But for subjects teaching, where the goal is less about activity and more about appreciation (if that is indeed the goal of subjects teaching), then what is 90 minutes for?

I don't have a general teaching qualification, so I don't know what's current wisdom on learning. My naive opinion is lecture + tutorial teaching is good. The lecture is the info dump (attractively packaged and somehow rendered accessible) and the tutorial is the practice session. (Technically I suppose I mean lecture + homework + tutorial, since no one is supposed to come to tutorials without preparation).

What would a high school teacher do though?



These are teacher training questions, I guess. I'm feeling the absence of a qualification.

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Day Dreamer

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2014, 03:00:33 AM »
In the olden days when I was still primarily an English teacher, it got to be so that 90 minutes classes were rewarding. That's to say, *I* could come out of the class with a sense that it'd gone well. The first period would be more about knowledge, the second more about practice. Neither period could be completely one or the other though. The real difference was, in theory, the first period finished on a restricted or controlled practice note, and the second ended fully open. I used an idea of pace too. First period had to have at least three change-ups - shift the text, change the activity, move to a new topic, whatev.

So yeah, that's skills classes, or my naive approach to them anyway. It worked out. Once you get used to pacing (and appropriately connecting the parts so that pacing isn't just rushing), then 90 minutes can be a breeze.

But for subjects teaching, where the goal is less about activity and more about appreciation (if that is indeed the goal of subjects teaching), then what is 90 minutes for?

I don't have a general teaching qualification, so I don't know what's current wisdom on learning. My naive opinion is lecture + tutorial teaching is good. The lecture is the info dump (attractively packaged and somehow rendered accessible) and the tutorial is the practice session. (Technically I suppose I mean lecture + homework + tutorial, since no one is supposed to come to tutorials without preparation).

What would a high school teacher do though?



These are teacher training questions, I guess. I'm feeling the absence of a qualification.

Not trying to stroke you, but what's wrong with that? My opinion is that if it works, you made the right call. If it doesn't, switch

I've used your method for the most part only in reverse. The first half would be the practice of the previous lesson. The second half either reinforce, continue on the same subject or a new topic. And I've used this approach from the small ones to the adults. Of course, the younger they are, the more variances you need to keep their interest
For you to insult me, first I must value your opinion

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2014, 03:22:33 AM »
This is why I shouldn't be an English teacher. In my many lost years teaching English, I never once reviewed past lessons. How about that, eh? *slaps ESL self*

But teaching subjects, I find it natural to review. Textbooks are orderly, and it's easy to use the index at the start of class to prompt a quick review of previous weeks, so it happens whether I think about it or not.

But then there's the question of engagement. Skills classes are a natural for creating engagement. You can set activities and it's nearly automatic that students are "engaged", at least minimally in the sense that they're doing something other than hunching over their individual desks. But what do you do when lecturing on a knowledge topic? Engagement is mysterious there. What activities are possible?

ESL activities are educational mayflies, they're only meant to live a short time. The form survives into the future, of course, and should be repeatable. But the topic can be, maybe should be, disposable. In subjects teaching, the topic is supposed to stay alive for the whole semester!

Isn't it?

Or is it?


And as to why this is all a question of "why 90 minutes?" is I have an instinct that 90 minutes is too long. Engagement fades along the way. If classes were short, sharp, to the point, and over before you know it....... well, maybe they'd be too short then, who knows?

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mlaeux

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2014, 03:53:58 AM »
When I taught reading to middle school students that scored low on the state mandated testing, we taught in 90 minute "blocks." They called it "double dipping." Students that scored on grade level or above just had regular 45 minute period classes. Personally, I prefer the 90 minute "blocks."

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Why 90 minutes?
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2014, 07:21:52 AM »
If the below average need more time with the teacher, Chinese students must be well above average by now.

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