International Language Exchange
This activity works best with a large class, about twenty studets, and with a diversity of languages. It is essentially a way for students to learn and teach greetings and basic expressions in their native languages. The key idea, however, is that they are explaining and askng questions in ENGLISH. Here are the procedures:
1. List basic greetings and expressions on the board.(Examples: Hello, hi, how are you?, excuse me, etc.)Illicit other expressions from students which they'd like to learn. Make sure you have enough to last the entire activity. They will teach and learn 3 expressions per group. (e.g. if you have 4 groups, you'll need 12 expressions)
2. Tell the students that they will be teaching each other, in English, how to write and say these expressions in their native language.
3. Divide class into groups of 3 or 4. Each group should have a mixture of languages. In my class, I happened to have 4 Spanish speakers, so I formed 4 groups and assigned only 1 Spanish speaker to each group. These Spanish speakers became captains. In any classroom, the language that has the most number would produce the captains.
4. Explain how the groups work. The captains sit on one side of the room and always stay seated. The other members of the group stay seated during one rotation, during which they teach and learn about 3 expressions. Each rotation is about 15 minutes.
5. Pass out one sheet of large newsprint paper to each group. Have the students make a grid, so that the left side lists the languages(e.g. Spanish, Korean, German) and the top part lists the expressions in English. They will be writing expressions in their native languages and phonetic spellings if needed(e.g. "An-young" is "hi" in Korean), under the correct heading.
5. In the next rotation, the members of each group except the captain move to another group. They teach and learn 3 new expressions. The same procedure is repeated until the students have met with every group. They get very excited about teaching what they know best and learning various expressions. It's a great exchange of languages! I've put up the newsprint paper on the wall as a constant reminder of not only how to say something in another language, but also the wonderful diversity we have in our classroom!
Elizabeth Park Kuser
Northampton Community College
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