My co-worker and I have created an experiential learning course for our “Basic” students. These are the students who get off the plane knowing how to say “Hello” and “Yes” and that’s about it. Several of us spent a few days in December writing a brand new curriculum for these students. Part of that curriculum included developing this experiential learning course.
The best way to learn language is to interact with it authentically, so we created a small course to encourage such an interaction. The students take 20 hours of classes a week: 15 hours in an integrated skills course and 5 hours in our class.
In our class, we review the language they’ve learned and give them “real-life” opportunities to use that language. In the first week, they took a tour of our university campus. They learned the names for the important buildings they need to know and practiced vocabulary related to classrooms and giving directions. The second week, they learned about signs, and they walked around taking pictures of various signs they saw. This week, they’ve learned about family, so they met with an American family and learned about American customs and interests.
We’ve been thinking about assessment for the course and decided that a blog might be a fun way to evaluate their learning. They take pictures of the various activities they participate in, and they’ll be posting them on the blog, along with sentences describing what they did. So far, it’s been a lot of fun. If you’re interested, check out our class blog. There’s only one short post so far, but they should be adding to it over time. The students are incredibly excited about learning. Students in other levels have come to me and asked why they can’t be part of the class, too. I love seeing this enthusiasm for learning English.