Since May 2018, I have been facilitating a non-formal English language study circle for newcomers which provides an alternative to formal instruction for assisting newcomers practice English in a number of contexts within a supportive group.
The Study Circle departs from the formal instructional approaches, and does not grade learners, nor require attendance. The sessions are flexible, participant-centered, and emphasize self-directedness and transformative learning, with the aim of providing rehearsals for active use of language outside the sessions. Participants attend on a voluntary, drop-in basis. There are no quizzes, tests, exams, rubrics, nor required portfolios. The core group of participants attend regularly, and make ongoing recommendations and feedback on topics, tasks and activities they would like to cover.
Participants and the facilitator co-create the sessions, but there is some implied structure developed over the past 10 months as the facilitator and learners suggest ideas, activities and resources. Oftentimes, the sessions start with a round table chat.
The sharing circle runs four mornings a week. The main objectives are to assist participants to find community resources and contacts, and services, interact with local guests, employers and community organizations, and learn more about local people, culture, news and events.