Taking a Reflect Approach

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Our class wall

Five weeks into the new year and I finally took the plunge to try the Reflect Approach with my E1 group.

 

We’d done some work the week before on countries and nationalities and this week I wanted them to focus on the geography around their home countries. I’m very fortunate to have a wide range of nationalities in my class so I organised the four groups to each have a least three nationalities in it.

Each group were given flipchard, some coloured paper, scissors and blue tack. The instructions were to create a map by cutting out shapes from the coloured paper and to share information about your country with your group.

 

I was able to demonstrate making a map so this part of the instruction was understood, but some groups needed some support in sharing information with each other. In general my tactic was to monitor and support with language, but not really to engage with the topic beyond that.

 

I don’t think I have ever seen a group of E1 students talk so much with each other before. I was really quite blown away by it. Trying to pull the whole class together and asking them to finish was most challenging!

 

Here are the maps they’ve created and some things they discussed:

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Group 1: Eritrean , Somalian, Pakistani and Polish

This group were possibly the most productive in the class, they were genuinely interested in what each other had to say. I was most involved with this group when the Somalian woman was talking about the coastline and all the shellfish that was available. The iPhone was great for showing pictures and the Lybian student from another group joined us at one point and brought his iPad, so they used this to look for pictures.

 

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Group 2: Pakistani x 2 and Iranian (I had 2 new students in this class and hadn’t realised when I made this group, but they were happy to work together)

The new Pakistani lady in this group was what is probably classed as a false beginner. She was very chatty and had lots to say. The Iranian student is fairly strong, but not very confident so I monitored from a distance to check they were on task, but in general they didn’t really need me. At one point they were talking about how Pakistan has some good friends and some very good friends and that many countries want to use Pakistan to get to other countries (she was talking about India in particular using Pakistani air space!)

 

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Group 3: Nepalese, Syrian, Libyan, Pakistani

The Syrian and Libyan student dominated this group and they talked a lot about the troubles in their respective countries. The Pakistani student was the most distanced in this group, when I asked her if she had learnt about the different countries she said yes but wouldn’t elaborate on what she had heard.

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Group 4: Iranian, Iraqi, Pakistani x 2

This groups discussions focused on celebrations, and they talked about the upcoming Eid, food and clothes. One Pakistani lady in this group also seemed quite distanced from the task and at one point went to talk to the Pakistani student from group 3. Again, when I approached them they said they were using English and Urdu to talk about the things they’d learnt – hard to know if I belived them or if they were telling me what I wanted to hear!

 

I had originally planned to rearrange the groups so they could feedback to each other, but as each group only had one map I thought this would be a little bit difficult so instead I had each group come to the front and tell everyone 3 things they had discussed. Group 2 did this fine, but group 2 were amazing! Each student (except the Polish lady as she is the weakest student in the class and should possibly be in a beginner group) had loads to say to the class and others were asking lots of questions.

 

We learnt that in Somalia they have two different kinds of camel, one that they ride and one that they eat! This caused some stirs in the class!!

 

Reflections

As I said I was completely blown away by the noise level in the class and the level of genuine communication happening between the students. However, I do know that not all students were equally engaged. I was very busy moving between groups, supporting by providing vocabulary so I can’t say that I had an eye on the whole class but at times I would look up from a group and see that some students were not engaged with their groups discussions.

 

Why might this have been? Maybe they weren’t understanding what was being said, or weren’t interested in the topic. I would expect that it was quite a tiring lesson so maybe they just needed a break?

 

I wasn’t very consistent with making a record of vocabulary or structures being used. I had to work quite hard moving between groups, listening in and getting a gist of the conversation they were having and then giving vocabulary when this was needed.  Students were making a note of their own vocabulary, but I can’t really remember specifics of each group as they were all talking about such diverse things. Next time I do this I need to think carefully about how I can record this better.

 

Each group got to contribute 2 or 3 words that they wanted included on the spelling test next week – these included words such as relations, celebration, embassy, coastline. Not your usual E1 vocabulary.

 

Next week

I need to think about how to do the spelling test. So far every week I read the words aloud as the students write them, they check their own answers and write a word 5 times if it’s incorrect or try to write a sentence if it is correct. Pretty traditional stuff. They are used to this now so I’d like to try to think of different ways of doing this.

 

There are still two groups to present to the class as we ran out of time so I think initially the groups need to have time to get together and recall their conversations before these two groups do this. I’m wondering if it may be a possible to get them to do some kind of collaborative writing task around what they talked about but not too sure about this. Their writing skills are certainly not as good as their s & l.

 

I gave them a choice of doing a lesson talking about their journey to the UK (an idea from the Reflect resources) or a class on world news and they chose news (or the loudest students did!) I want to do something around what countries appear in the world news of each country, for example I remember when I was in China how interesting it was to see countries like Egypt and Japan regularly on the news.

 

I have a bunch of The Times world news section and they conveniently put the country under each heading so I want to do some kind of tally/survey with the students about how many stories there are about each country over a week. I think this is a manageable task for E1 students to do with a newspaper.

 

 

 

 

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