STAR Conversation Club at CRMC - Term 2 Week 6 Thursday Session (16/2/17)
Today’s Conversation Club had 9 participants and 12 volunteers. Despite the low attendance and some technical issues the session went well. In total, there were two activities and a warmer.
We started with quite an amusing icebreaker being to discuss questions associated with Valentine’s day. This generated interesting and dynamic conversations and everybody could relate to it and had experiences, memories and thoughts to share. The questions were supposed to show on the slides but because of wifi problems and technical issues with the computer we could not access the power point. Instead a volunteer quickly wrote the questions down which resulted in a small delay, but the exercise resumed successfully.
Following the icebreaker, we had our first activity which was a listening exercise where participants were to listen to a phone conversation and answer questions. This time we managed to fix the problem with the speakers and it all went well. Participants enjoyed the exercise and managed to answer the questions. Related to this exercise we distributed a sheet with the phonetic alphabet as one question in the listening exercise was about spelling your name on the phone. Some participants turned this into role-play and acted out an improvised phone conversation scene where they spelled their own names using the sheet. The phonetic alphabet came in handy in later activities as well.
After this we had a break with refreshments and casual conversation. Some participants, usually the ones on a beginner’s level used it to ask further questions about the material in previous exercises.
We continued with our final activity of the session which was to read one of two funny stories and answer the questions. Afterwards you were supposed to retell the story to someone else with a different story and vice versa. Before pairing up participants we decided to split them into two groups, one beginners group and another for the more advanced. This facilitated the exercise and encouraged those with a beginner’s level to speak more and to work at a pace they are comfortable with ensured they got sufficient help from volunteers. Participants really enjoyed this exercise and requested more of it as they have in previous sessions.
We finished the session with a feedback circle where participants expressed their gratitude over the sessions and the volunteers dedicating their time to help out. This week there was no specific theme, and we had discussed earlier during a meeting whether that would be a problem or not but no participant seemed to mind and there were no comments about it. Instead they were really happy with the exercises and especially the one with the stories. We then took a group photo!
Overall this week’s Conversation Club went very well and participants are as always very eager to learn and improve their language. In our volunteers debriefing session we discussed whether to introduce homework or not, and if we should make the material for the exercises available in advance for those who would like to prepare before the session. This could be especially helpful for the low-level learners, to translate words and get an overview of the activities beforehand.
Written by Alexandra Salib (Conversation Club Co-Coordinator)