STAR Conversation Club at CRMC - Term 2 Week 7 Thursday Session (23/2/17)
In today’s Conversation Club we were 11 volunteers and 8 participants. The surprisingly low attendance just as last week could have been caused by the bad weather which was a point made by a participant in the WhatsApp group chat. Despite this, however, the session went very well and in total we had one warmer and 3 activities.
We started with the warmer which was for each person in the circle to say one word until we have constructed a story together. This was a very good way for participants to test their vocabulary and their grammar. For example, if someone starts a sentence saying “I” this has to be followed by a suitable verb. It also gave room for participants to be creative and we ended up with quite a funny story that definitely did the job of breaking the ice.
Following the warmer we continued with our first activity which was to watch a video about Coventry and listen for any places or other information and to note that down. After that they sat in pairs and shared what they had been able to catch from the video and ask each other about these places. This was a very good activity because it gave them the opportunity to listen for information selectively and practice notetaking. To know what is relevant and extract the most important information is certainly a useful skill that they can use in their daily life.
After this we took a break with some refreshments and some casual conversation.
We continued with the second activity which was a listening exercise where participants had to listen to a conversation and answer some questions. Unlike the first activity this one already tells participants what to listen for and therefore is it easier and not as challenging. It is especially beneficial for the beginner level learners as it is shorter and less overwhelming with its low amount of information.
In the final activity, we divided the group in two, beginners and advanced level, and gave them each one story. Volunteers who spoke Arabic were with beginners group and the others were helping the advanced learners. Because of the low attendance there was a one-to-one ratio between volunteers and participants and this seems to help them a lot as they all got sufficient help according to their level. We ended this activity with people from each group retelling their story to everyone. After this roleplayed the stories and one group were even creative enough to come up with a whole new story during the 10 minutes they had to prepare.
Finally, we finished with a feedback circle and participants were very thankful for the sessions and the activities for today. However, one pointed out that the first listening activity was hard because the video was long and that he didn’t understand everything. We highlighted at this point that it is not necessary to understand every single word and that learning is a process. Challenging activities push them to learn and to test their knowledge. We also emphasized the importance of self-study and proposed to give them a list of websites they could use on their own. The beginners level learners said the division was very useful and that they received the help they needed. They requested more activities related to daily life situations as this could in fact help them in real life. Lastly, we discussed our trip together and participants were happy with the changed plans to go to Kenilworth Castle. We then took a group photo!
Overall the session went very well and in the future, we said to aim for more real life related activities and to maintain the division between beginners and advanced level learners.
Written by Alexandra Salib (Conversation Club co-Coordinator)