As part of my presentation at TESOL France, I spoke about a negotiated and emergent syllabus students designed two weeks ago, in which we had some lessons outside (park, café, high street). This part of the presentation was well received and generated some interesting questions afterwards. For example:
Shelly Terrell asked me what my school thought about having lessons outside. I said they’re okay with that, and that in the summer we were specially encouraged to do it; the school even hired a mini-course consisting of an audio tour guide (15 mp3 players) with pre and post tour lesson plans and worksheets.
This reminded me that in many institutes it may not be clear whether it is okay to have lessons outside of classrooms. And in some others, it is clear that teachers are not allowed to do it. Why not?
I understand that if I had 40 students at a school located in a dodgy area or something like that, going out could be a very bad idea. But in contexts where this can be easily done, why is it not?
All in all, I would be very interested to know what kind of things teachers out there are doing outside of the classroom, because despite the classroom being a safer place, it’s also very boring sometimes.
Later on, I was chatting with Antonia Clare and Ceri Jones, and they asked me if I filmed any of the things I talked about, or if I ever video record the students and some ideas to do it. I said no, never, because they don’t like it.
On the train back to London, I thought, Wait a minute! They don’t like it?… erm… I think I actually never asked… or maybe I did… but hey, they might’ve changed their minds… and now that the group is more integrated, they might think it’s a good idea.
Yesterday, I walked in with the same plan I had in the week I described in the presentation, i.e. no plan.
But I had a mindset:
DOING is better than covering. By this I mean, the syllabus won’t be guided by seeing and covering language items, or skills and sub-skills. Any linguistic instruction will only be present at the point of need, when students have their hands on authentic communication. There will be no reductionism or atomization of language (in) use and its skills prior to anything. Everything will be seen as whole, emergent, and collaborative.
I also had a rule: we need a product, you’ll need to produce something.
When we started to brainstorm ideas for the week I suggested we made a film, and guess what? Everyone liked the idea.
So this is what we’ll do this week. We’re going to produce a film.