After the autumn break we continued with a very current theme: the US presidential election in November. We studied several articles related to the topic, took a look at some statistics, watched a few (funny) video clips and naturally talked about the future scenarios. The discussion was very active! There was wondering, worrying but also calm attitude. We were eager to see what would happen. Now we of course know that Donald Trump got elected.
We had one exceptional lesson because the school photos were taken and people kept walking in and out of the classroom. During that time we talked about stereotypes and how nobody is immune to them. We just need to understand that stereotypes do not represent the truth or tell anything about an individual.
In the final lesson of the week we had another lovely guest, Marian Tumanyan from Armenia. I reckon Marian was the first Armenian person anyone of us had ever met. Therefore we were very interested in everything she told us about her home country, language and culture. It seems to be a very interesting and beautiful country!
Here is Marian teaching us the alphabet.
After my week in Belgium, we started working on human rights issues more closely. The lesson included activities and films related to asylum seekers’ and refugees’ situation as well. I find it important to develop everyone’s understanding on the humanitarian crisis, in hope of being able to arouse feelings of empathy, too. “What would I do? How would I feel?” Of course, being critical on the information you get is also of utmost importance.
“We talked about asylum seekers and refugees. We tried to put ourselves in their shoes. It was very interesting lesson and it changed my mind related to refugees.”
On Wednesday we had the first visitor in class. Mohammad Shehab is a student in Oulu at the moment. He shared his knowledge on his own culture and home country Egypt as well as many other points related to the English language, for example.
Thank you Mohammad! Now we know a lot more about Egypt and learned some Arabic as well.
On Thursday we were lucky to have two visitors at the same time. They are students in Oulu as well. Claudia Alonso is from Mexico and Modou Leigh is from Gambia. Or more correctly put, from THE Gambia, as I learned that day. Modou was the first Gambian we had ever met, so we had a lot to learn related to the Gambia. Claudia was able to share many new and interesting points on Mexico as well. Thanks Claudia and Modou – you were lovely guests!
Thank you both, Claudia and Modou! You were lovely guests.
For the third lesson we had only about 30 minutes because of other activities at school. We went through the UN Sustainable Goals from the previous lesson and after some counting of points we found out which group had won the activity. Congratulations to the winners! They also got information and hints how to start working on the video they are supposed to create during the course.
The following week was even more exceptional. I travelled in Belgium with a group of students on a visit related to our school’s DIG_IT – project (Erasmus+). On Monday I had a substitute. Our very own teacher Anna Grubert gave the group a lesson on pidgin and creole languages.
“I liked the lesson, …it was interesting and I learned new things about different forms of English, as well as that some of the languages that sound a lot like English aren’t exactly English.”
For the remaining two lessons on that week the students were supposed to work in pairs or in small groups and start creating a video. They have a free hand otherwise but the theme has to be somehow related to the UN Sustainable Goals. I hope they got a lot done!
The second round of English Worldwide has started. I have 25 eager young minds, motivated to speak English, learn of different cultures and global issues. Pretty awesome!
In the first lesson we took some time for planning. Then the students introduced themselves to the rest of the group. They shared thoughts of their future and important issues in their lives at the moment.
This is what one of the students wrote in her journal:
“The first lesson of the course was getting to know to each other. The activity that we did was fun and it was good to know what things we had in common. I think that this course is going to be quite interesting.”
In the second lesson we started to talk about the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We learnt what they were and why they existed. We used some aspects of the “world’s largest lesson” (Here you can find some material.) . I gave the students some other activities to keep them busy while learning. They ran around and dictated phrases to each other. We didn’t have time to check their work so we’ll do it next time.
“Today we had to dictate texts that were scattered all around the classroom and in the room next to the class. We had to remember the texts and then try to dictate them in as much detail as we could to the one who wrote the texts on paper. I actually quite enjoyed the activity. It was a nice change to the casual English classes.”
We started to do our final projects, animations related to our course topics. In the previous weeks the groups had prepared their story line and made some figures to be used in their films. First our art teacher Kaisa Annala worked with the students and helped them to get started with the application (Clay Frames) and shooting the pictures. In the following lesson the students continued working with their films. Finally, in the last lesson of the course, we watched all the films. All groups had found a very good theme for their film: from discrimination to human rights and national identities.
“Thank god we were fast enough to finish with our pictures the last time and we had the whole lesson to spend for recording the audio. I was the narrator, others made the sound effects and were in charge of music and the unicorn’s love stream. Don’t ask. You should watch the animation to understand.”
“During the final lesson of this course it was time to watch all animations. Since they were all in a digital form we couldn’t get through this lesson without minor technical issues. In the end everything went well and we had a chance to see each other’s animations. It was entertaining to watch them because they were so different compared to one another. I think everyone did a great job.”
A FINAL NOTE:
For me as a teacher having a course like this was a blast! I learned a lot, too. I got to know wonderful people around the world and managed to do something a bit different with our lovely and mature students. There’s nothing wrong with dealing with grammar and vocabulary related to pop culture, but planning topics and carrying out activities that are covered only quickly, if at all, in regular English courses gave me personal pleasure and I felt we were doing something worthwhile.
It makes me very happy that the students felt the same way:
“I am so glad I decided to join this course. It was so different from what I had in mind and yet so interesting! The ultimate plus was the amount of guests our teacher had managed to arrange for our lessons. Each one of them had a whole different background and they all had their stories. What great personalities! I also got much more information about global issues and organizations such as human rights and UN. The course really made me think about our planet and other people. Writing this journal was a good way to deal with all the emotions and feelings that the lessons gave me. I also managed to fulfill the goal I was aiming at during the course, which was to increase my English skills.”
“And at the end: the course was good, it REALLY was. I have always been complaining that students do not learn by reading and studying, they learn by DOING. That is why the course was good. And I think it was important to have those visitors! The only thing that irritated me, was that there was so much hard vocabulary, it made me feel like I know nothing about English. So I seriously prefer that courses like this should be taught.”
Hopefully there are eager young minds in our school in two years so that I am able to teach this kind of course again. In the next study year we’ll go back to something we already know very well: there is a GLOBAL ME – course run by an international group of students from AIESEC.
Let’s keep on thinking globally!
This lesson was very interesting. We had a lovely guest from the US, Kandace Sheri. She introduced us some typical aspects of the lifestyle in the southern states and her own American accent. A wonderful continuum in relation to the course topics was that she also talked quite a lot about different holidays, especially Halloween.
“It was great to hear English from someone who speaks it as a native language! It really sounded wonderful and from the first second she started to speak, I had to whisper to my friend: “She sounds lovely”.
“I remember what Kandace taught us about Halloween and the haunted houses. I must say that she was one of the best guests we had during this course! She was entertaining and chatty.”
Our next guest cancelled so we continued on our own. We talked a bit more about drama, its history and its significance in relation to the development of societies.
Then we started comparing holidays and festivals in different countries. Students worked in groups, looked for information related to the festival assigned to them and then presented a summary of their findings to the rest of the class. We learned more about Halloween, Christmas festivities in Britain and Guy Fawkes Day, to name but a few.
“I learned so much about different feasts. It was also very funny to look for information about Valentine’s day :)”