For today’s lesson, I got both sets of my students to produce posters on the them of Cambodian Weddings, and then to present to me. It was most definitely a case of ‘good in parts’. The posters themselves look like the students have taken stuff in, and the second group especially introduced new details to really tell me about weddings. I’d posted on the Facebook groups (did I mention I now have Facebook Group for each class?) that ‘today I will be the student, and you will be the teacher’. They seemed to take that on board.
Hard to know what to think, at the actual ‘production’ stage, there was a distinct lack of any communication between the students, let alone communication in English. I was doubtful about the whole endeavour, but too far down setting it in motion to pull the plug on it. However, after their presentations the students claimed to have found it useful, and a couple even took selfies with their pictures, even posting on Facebook how happy they were with what they’ve done – validation indeed.
There was banter about each others offerings which was fun – a picture of an erica flower (possibly, no idea myself) was amended to look like a mouse. Harsh, but funny, maybe you have to be there. Some of them did amazing drawings though, get these – nothing to do with English Language perhaps, but wow all the same:
Whether the activity had pedagogical validity I know not. I do know that seeing the posters riddled as they were with mistakes in sentence structure and even words I wondered if I’d created a monster. My heart tells me well they spoke didn’t they, they presented in English, that is the point of the activity. Further more, whilst they may not have had perfect grammar or pronunciation, they have communicated what they wanted to say. Surely all to the good. My head has a little voice of dissent that maybe I need to be more constructively critical and pick over these errors. I actually spoke to the Education Manager about it. He has suggested an extension activity where we do corrections and they re-do the posters corrected as an option. I get where he’s coming from but I’m sick of weddings now. Also, there are too many posters, I could spend the rest of the term correcting them and where would be the joy in that. I think instead, (and this is OK according to the Education Manager) I’ll build in the correcting aspect as an integral part of any future poster constructing activities, and have more people to each poster so there are fewer to re-work. I do worry a bit though about group dynamics, not all students contributed equally, and it’s hard because the groups change every day. Oh well, we tried, at least the physical output makes it look like we were doing something so that’s obviously the important thing. Had you looked through the window at my class, with the students peering over their flip chart paper you’d have nodded appreciatively at their engagement, it was only within the classroom you could hear the silence of incomprehension and resentment at the task. To be fair, anyone ever presented with a piece of flip chart paper and a deadline by which they have to present something constructive pulled together with their distinctly ropey team-mates must have felt that same sense of dread. Oh well.
After the presentations, the first group excelled themselves by doing some actual reenactments of the various ceremonies, that was really impressive, and had me in stitches. They solemnly presented as monks or honoured their parents and whatever.
The second group moved more off piste than the first, and I thought we’d run out of time, but I was impressed by the effort and sincerity of their presentations. What great students I have!
Oh and here are the selfies they added to Facebook, with the caption ‘so happy for presentation about Khmer Wedding tradition’. I love my students, they are AWESOME! However, it could all change in an instant. I’m only a dud session away from absolute angst and crippling self-doubt. Still, for now let’s enjoy the ride!