Now that I’ve got your attention readers, no, I’m not going to go into details of my post-accident trauma, but it would make for a lovely title to describe my current situation! Instead, I’ll attempt to offer a little insight into what transpired in class this past week where we stepped outside the course book and launched into the topic of love.
I’m a big believer in providing a variety of input in class so that students meet different types of texts and grapple with the meaning and language found in a variety of genres.
The aim in this case was to expose learners to a non-scripted conversation about love, full of interesting idiomatic phrases. They listened for both gist and detail, then mined the transcript for these idiomatic chunks. In groups, students then related them to their own experiences and we all had quite a few giggles as we later discussed favourites. This particular podcast was found at podcastsinenglish.com, a wonderful source of unscripted listening material, put together by one of the authors of the Global series, along with her partner.
For homework we read a short story found in the BritLit series which touches on the idea of arranged marriages, a very interesting story, and a loaded topic for discussion. It deals with the situation of a woman from a developing country being pressured to marry an older man from a wealthy country and how she feels about this.
In the following class, the story was first examined through the context of the situation and the feelings the narrator and the other protagonists might be experiencing. Later, the class was invited to ask about any difficult vocabulary or structures. These were dealt with by me asking leading questions, offering the class a chance to discover the meaning on their own before I gave my best gloss. As the story itself was full of nuances and colloquialisms, it was worth taking the time to do this.
Bringing the focus back to the students, a short worksheet, first requiring quiet individual thought and then group discussion on the pros and cons of arranged marriages, was set for classwork. Each student was given slips of paper containing useful phrases for expressing opinion, as well as agreement, concession and rebuttal. These were produced each time they made a point, the idea being that they could use and reuse them as many times as necessary in their discussion.
Interestingly enough, the idea of arranged marriages, while still quite prevalent in Vietnam, generated lots of thoughts on both sides, and genuine discussions took place as students negotiated meaning, expressing their own ideas and reasons for them. Most ‘pro’ examples focused more on power and money (the right family, someone with the right income), and the ‘cons’, not surprisingly, involved issues such as freedom of choice, true love and modern life. To finish on a lighter note, the class then told each other how they met their current partner, or the story of someone they knew. This closed an interesting week of discussion, reading and listening on the global topic of love.
Until next week,