Diary of a Creative English Trainer: Day 10

Taking Creative liberties!

I thought I’d share some tweaks I’ve made with a couple of Session Plans for Creative English.

The beauty of this programme is that it contains 38 pre-prepared, highly relevant Session Plans for all our Hubs to make use of.  We have never expected anyone to be an expert, just an enthusiastic volunteer!  So we have made it our concern to provide guidance all the way through the programme, supporting with Session Plans, blogs, websites, Facebook pages, emails, visual aids, props and (just beginning now) visits to see how everyone is getting on.

Well, today is confession time: I have not always followed the Session Plans exactly! I confess that sometimes I have read through the Session Plans and thought that some sections might not fit the learners in my classes, or, indeed, that my venue might not work with the ideas offered.  Rest assured that if you have felt like me: IT IS OK!!!

These are a couple of the tweaks, that I’ve used.  I hope it leaves you feeling encouraged to try things, once you get a handle on how a Creative English session normally works.

One of my classes has quite a short lesson time, so it is often difficult to get through the material in the session plan.  As a consequence, I sometimes split the lesson into two parts.  When I got to Session 3 it felt like I had enough material for one whole session, plus a little more for another one (but not quite enough).  So I wrote a short scenario around Samantha needing to return a dress.  You can find the text of this on our Facebook page.  This proved a fruitful exercise, because everyone could relate to feeling nervous about making a complaint.  It involved Sam taking Sally with her and explaining the situation to the cashier.  As we were improvising this, one of my students burst out with an interjection of the phrase, “The changing rooms are over there!”  It seemed that this scene had triggered a memory of the instruction from his own experience – it just sprung up and he just shouted it out!

In Session 11 (all about going to the hairdressers) I found that I could not easily use the story lines offered.  The choice was between a female going on a date via a dating agency or using a learner to show how to take part in interviews and evaluating the interviewee.  Neither of these worked for me, so I came up with a variation on the dating game: Samantha gets set up with a date (called Ben) and Ben gets set up with a date (called Samantha).  It turns out that there has been a mix-up and in the end, sister meets brother – much to their anger, disappointment and embarrassment!

I started the session with loads of laughs with our pink wig.  After using my volunteer, Zarqa, (if she wasn’t being a volunteer, I’d give her a reference any day to be a hairdresser – she knows all the ‘talk’!!!) to demonstrate the kind of conversations that can happen at the hairdressers (Where are you going for your holidays this year? Are you going somewhere nice tonight?), I then got everyone into pairs to recreate this.  This was brilliant, because the whole room looked like a Salon, with stylists everywhere!

One of my students trying on the wig!

One of my students trying on the wig!

Then we put ‘Samantha’ into role and sent her off to the hairdressers. We followed with Ben getting himself ready and going to the barbers, too. Then, as I unfolded the story, the class began to get the story, and were beginning to smile and comment! Sam goes to the meeting point and then Ben arrives – much laughter and many instructions to Sam to tell her what to do!  Sam got very ‘cross’ (new variant on ‘angry’) and made a phone call to the Dating Agency. The Dating Agency (a more able student) apologised, but prevaricated until the next day on the excuse that she needed to find out what had happened.  So Sam went home and ‘wrote’ a letter of complaint.  I had pre-prepared the letter and we read it together.  Many of the students thoroughly enjoy reading aloud, so we did this five or six times.  We didn’t have time to do more, but I had planned to offer an opportunity for some letter writing for more able students if needed.  It was thoroughly enjoyable for all!  I’ll put the letter onto our Facebook page, so that you can make use of it, if you wish.

If you have found something fresh that works, do feel free to share it with us!  You could email us or use the FaithAction Creative English page on Facebook; Hub volunteers can use the usual route of the Creative English Volunteers page, too.