I promised to share with you some information about different forms of work and approaches to studying and would like to tell you about one of them I find particularly appealing because it gives ample room for discussion and exchange of ideas. It comes in the form of TESOL forum where all the MA students in the School of Education meet once a week to discuss some aspect of teaching and learning methodology. Doesn't sound too engaging? But wait for details. You should know from my previous posts that there are students from quite a few countries in the program. So, when we discuss any question at the forum, we have a chance to hear about the experiences people in different parts of the world have had. Let's take the methods that are used to teach and learn languages. Remember audiolingualism, the natural way, grammar-translation, CLT, to name just a few? All right, we had students share their experiences of learning or teaching using these and discuss their advantages and disadvantages.What it gives you is some sense of reality and an opportunity to compare things back home with those elsewhere. Every single method went through the period of popularity and its decline. Still, each of them had something that made it work in its time. Why? This is what we have to understand and use what works to the benefit of our students. I keep thinking about how great it would be to have such a forum back home too.
To prepare to the forum discussions we meet in small study groups we were divided into when we first started studying here. It'd be more precise to say we divided ourselves, though. This is what happens. Each group agrees on a convenient time to meet before the class and discusses the questions that we have to be ready with trying to clarify everybody's unclear areas. I should say it is very helpful even if you think you know the answers because explaning it to others makes things even clearer or helps you to see what you actually have not understood to the end. These meetings can be as short or as long as we like. However, I don't remember a single one shorter than an hour, which to me indicates the level of commitment to getting to the heart of the matter.
Have you had similar experience with your students? Would you like to try?