After our first meeting last Wednesday I was extremely excited about conducting our second session and looking forward to seeing my new students again! We were in touch via Skype, Facebook and email but to meet them all in person, as a group, easily became the highlight of my working week. I have never met such motivated learners, full of dreams about their English!
We began the session by discussing their language goals which they emailed me earlier. Here are a few examples:
“I will be able to read Paolo Coelho´s novels in English, without a dictionary.”
“I will write an article for an English magazine or newspaper.”
“I will be able to watch movies without subtitles.”
“I will be able to correspond with my American friends in California without mistakes, using rich vocabulary.”
They are aware of the fact that they have to work hard if they want to make their dreams come true. Not only should these dreams be fulfilled one day but also each of the four language skills should be continually improving, in order for the students to become balanced langauge users, as Marek Vít stresses in his article “Co je na angličtině nejdůležitější” (in Czech). If you are good at Reading and Writing, how will it make you fit for Speaking or Listening? If your Listening is good but your Writing contains a lot of grammatical and spelling mistakes, will you be considered a good language user?
I am very proud of how focused the students are and how hard they seem to be working already. Especially with the new version of English Central where they all started recording their voice. Zuzka was the busiest bee of all, having managed to record 744 lines of text! English Central is, at least to me, a revolutionary new software which will help thousands of people improve their listening and speaking skills. You just have to try and see for yourself how exciting this is. Do a demo lesson, follow the instructions for recording yourself and then register for free. Nothing is complicated, it´s so well-structured, so resourceful and so much fun. I can´t stop using it myself!
ENGLISH OUT THERE PROGRAMME
The point of this programme is to give students an opportunity to practise a lot of speaking on many different topics with real people. Each student will go through one lesson per week, revise it a few days later and then call their conversation partners and ask pre-structured questions from the task sheets. They should talk to 4-5 people a week, each for 5-10min, unless they want to talk longer, of course. I decided to put a list together myself by contacting my friends, in order to give the students a hand at first. Later on when they are familiar with the programme, they can start adding their own convo partners to the list of language partners they were given.Finding a language partner is easy, but can take some time. I highly recommend to talk only with people who are native or fluent English speakers (fluent = someone like me) and they should be from at least 5 different countries. It will help you understand different accents and new vocabulary from – British English, American English, Arabic English, Indian English, Canadian English, Russian English, Czech English, and others.
I called this session the “Self-study Jump Start” as it was an introduction to all the work the students are going to be doing outside of the classroom. It was less conversational and they might have been overwhelmed by all the resources and tools available. But they really have nothing to worry about – our next session is a Pub Discussion, so no computers, beer and lots of speaking time ahead of us, both online with the conversation partners and offline during the native speaker events.
If you are one of the students, please, do comment on how it´s working out for you so far. If you are a teacher and want to know more about our session, don´t hesitate to contact me via Facebook.
Big thanks to Glenn, my dear friend and teacher colleague, for helping out with managing the lessons!