So, how did it go? I’m faintly surprised about the fact it went well. I over planned, particularly as I forgot one of the learners had to give a presentation as part of her summative assessment, so there was about half an hour or so of spare activity left at the end. The class was smaller than I had expected, what with exams being over and so on. However, lots of interesting things arose.
The lesson generally went pretty much as planned. The initial discussion on diversity was really striking, and actually some of the things the learners said highlighted some fascinating reflections from the learners about who they were and how they perceived themselves. I feel almost guilty that I didn’t do this at the start of the year, because the first round of “linking” really got the learners relating to each other a lot more than they maybe had before. In particular, the discussions around faith and culture led to some very positive reflections and sharing.
I wasn’t sure how the sharing of similarities was going to work, rather than highlighting the difference, and perhaps some of those discussions would have been more challenging. That said, for one group, made up of two women from Pakistan, a woman from Poland and a younger man from Afghanistan, the challenges to find shared ground proved much more discursive.
It’s worth noting as well the volume and quality of the language generated. Naturally the language of diversity was widely explored, particularly around race and nationality, although questions about the differences between paternity/fatherhood and maternity/motherhood and the contexts of how these words are used was a key interesting point.
The interviewing, I think, for a level 2 class was a little too easy. I think I should have structured the questioning more carefully, as the written texts focused on fairly straightforward stuff like when the learners came to the UK. The learners were challenged, because there were some crucial errors around grammar structures, like overuse of past perfect, and the avoidance (rather than the misuse) of present perfect structures, particularly present perfect continuous. The errors were definitely developmental rather than borne out of a lack of knowledge: students were trying “She has been starting to learn…” and overuse of time markers where the grammar does it for you “She has been learning English for five years since 2009.” It was also very satisfying to note that some of the learners who had had trouble with adjective-preposition collocations (interested in, etc.) were able to peer correct without prompting.
And that, to be fair, is about as far as we got! Because the class was missing a few people, the challenge will be about getting them included in some way when we return to this in a later class: getting involved as part of the existing groups is much less than ideal, but getting them involved as a new group in a sort of “fast track” version, might be the way forward. I think that for the next stage, where they compare texts, I’m going to get the groups to discuss how they are different and how they are similar, although only to record similarities. The closing whole class work looking at the finished maps I think will focus on the differences, and the discussions and language which will arise from that should be very interesting indeed.