In this new semester, I have a new teaching resolution that I’d like to see through. I’m trying to trust my students more to take charge of their own learning, to set their own goal, and of course to bring their own material. This way, the class instruction is more individualized and customized to each student’s level and need. It is an important consideration since the proficiency levels in an ESP class are not uniformed and setting one syllabus for all is not working (trust me, I know). Of course, as a teacher, I should still set the standard competence as a guideline.
For an introduction to genre, this week I asked them to bring their favorite reading material without any restriction other than that it should be in English. It could be from a novel, short story, biography book, news article, manga/webtoon, or even from a blog post. They then had to share it in a group discussion. I still gave them some pointers of what to look for and what question team members could ask while still letting them bring the discussion to whichever direction. This way, I hoped that the activity run in an ‘organic’ way. After that, one of the team members gave an oral report to the class about the discussion, followed by a Q&A session.
Deducing from the report and my observation as the starting point, I began to explain about genres, their differences in function and basic structure, a little bit about linguistic elements that form them, etc. Also, a bit of reading strategy that they can use in the future.
Regarding the grouping, it is important to have a small one with 3-4 people and one highly proficient student as the captain. The captain is responsible for the team learning including, but not limited to, making sure the members do their assignment, helping them giving corrective feedback, and moderating group discussion. There are many ways of providing feedback to students. However, in this model, I did not let myself give any during the discussion. I kept note and addressed them at the end of the session, though.
It is still too early to measure the effectiveness of this model in a pre-and-post score manner. However, there is no resistance shown. Students from both high and low proficient levels actively engaged in the activity and the class appeared to be much more alive than last semester. Oh, I also heard more laughter as well, and that was a good enough indicator for me, ;)