This table below describes a framework in progress of a non-formal English language sharing circle; it is a blended delivery model for English language learners in combination with the English Study Group activities and the Essential Skills practice activities. Again the principles for engaging participants are similar: participation is voluntary, the activities are based on learners’ willingness, and there is an open invitation extended by the facilitator to participate at a level a learner is comfortable with. The facilitator and peers and community experts are a source of feedback and act as non-formal observers and reviewers.
The table describes four kinds of activities participants can engage in both online as well as in-person. The participants can integrate and blend the two forms of environments; indeed, participants are invited and encouraged to use the online activities (as blogs) to support their in-person English language learning activities, and vice-versa.
Resource Find, Read and Share Some of the already successful activities in the study sessions involved using The Book of Rainbows, a two volume collection of stories told by local members of the community of Prince Rupert, BC. The participants were able to read the stories and biographies beforehand as a group with the facilitator and prepare for guests to visit and provide more details and answer questions. The tie-in between reading as a group and participating in a discussion with people who wrote the stories has been an amazing way to engage participants in spontaneous, relaxed, and fun learning.
Another recent online resource I found interesting and engaging is BookCrossing.com, which was inspired by finding a book with the label on it; I then went online to find out more, and then shared my discovery with the participants.
Still another activity related to reading was the Library visit; we are provided with an informative guided tour, and the participants can browse and talk about what they have found. In one case, a group of participants found books that generated a lot of interest and excitement. We then got together as whole group afterwards to re-cap what we found, and share the books and other materials with the others. The strong interest in how the electronic resources can be accessed led me to ask for a follow-up tour for Library staff to talk with us again about accessing online accounts and resources.
Online activities then build on ad extend the in-person activities (and vice-versa); readings of online book reviews and viewing online product reviews can be combined with participants composing online lists of recommended reading materials annotated with links and short notes.
Reflections on Learning Materials, Activities and Goals Participants can sit as a group or arrange to meet with the facilitator individually, and talk about how they are doing with language learning, how the activities and materials are useful, and recommend other materials and resources. It is also an opportunity to revisit goals and plans. Overall, practicing using this kind of language empowers participants to work more closely with the facilitator and identify needs and ask for resources and support. It is also a great way to practice using the language of reflection.
Participants can engage in reflective writing and record their self-talk, and create rich pictures describing processes in a protected, private online learning space (the sandbox). Participants require support and encouragement to begin working on an English Learning Journal, which would include lists and links, reflections on the language learning process, and screen captures of readings they translated using Google Translate, and additional notes.
to be continued….