Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Friday, January 20, 2006

Student Generated Content

by AJ

Having built rapport with my class, this week I had a feedback discussion with them. I prodded and poked to determine what they liked about my class, what they didnt, and what they wanted.

The number one comment... which all the students strongly supported... was that they wanted more of a focus on practical, everyday, conversational English. They want to focus (first) on the English they need everyday: applying for jobs, sending packages at the post office, ordering food at a restaurant, performing their job duties (waitress, receptionist, cook, etc.), getting a cell phone, answering ads for apartments or jobs,..... One Korean student was particularly outspoken. She works as a waitress in a Japanese restaurant. But she struggles to understand her customers.

As we talked, it hit me... Ive been going about this ass-backwards. I shouldnt be choosing the content & materials we use in class... they should.

And so I made this suggestion: "Carry a tape recorder with you at work and througout your day. Record the conversations you find difficult. Bring them to me. I will use your tape in class-- we'll learn the vocabulary, practice listening and comprehension, and role play responses." Likewise, I suggested that THEY choose their own reading material. I asked them to bring me applications, articles, emails, ads, and other materials that they want to understand (this could also extend to songs, TV shows, and movies).

This was one of those "duh" moments for me. Such a simple solution. Turn the students into content-gatherers. Put the responsibility on them. Let them decide what is important to their education. Let them choose the language that is important to their lives.

Its "wu wei" in action. The teacher works less. The students get content that is more relevant and interesting to them. Less work, more effective. Thats the spirit of "Effortless Acquisition".