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Chapter Three - Evaluation

The materials were taught with volunteers from the part time intermediate class of the EFL School at Luton University.

Eight Ss attended in total Ė three from Hungary, two from The Czech Republic, one from Pakistan (Kashmir), one from Singapore and one from Spain.

There were two male Ss and six female Ss. 

Some of the Ss knew each other and myself as they had already attended the school for one term but there were also a few Ss who were new. This was interesting because I was very much of the impression that those Ss who already knew me and each other felt very comfortable even before the lesson started and indeed they told me that they had been looking forward to it. I feel this vindicates my belief that relaxation and therefore learning is greatly assisted when one takes time to get to know oneís Ss on a personal and informal basis outside of the classroom. It certainly made it easier to generate the relaxed atmosphere once we were in the classroom. 

The lesson began very smoothly. The Ss seemed to quickly pick up on and accept the reasoning behind what we were going to do. The necessity for an explanation became especially apparent though when two of the Ss arrived late (just at the end of the first drawing activity). The fact that they had missed the whys and wherefores of what we were trying to achieve and also the first scene setting exercise meant that for the rest of the lesson they were out of sync with the rest of the class. This was despite my efforts to bring them on board by using monitoring time to explain as succinctly as possible what had gone before. 

The first drawing activity went superbly well though and worked perfectly to set the scene for what was to follow. I was very happy with it and would not seek to change it. However, it was very interesting that when I asked for two volunteers to come to the board (I had to choose one of them because they were a little shy but this was done with humour and I felt the S I chose was happy enough once at the board) the S writing out the Ideal features included such things as Ďa crowd of peopleí, Ďa barí, Ďsun loungersí etc. as opposed to the near deserted golden sands and palm trees image that Iíd been expecting and that would correlate with our text. At this point, conscious of time I chose to tell them that this was a great example of how different people can have different ideas and how my ideal beach scene contrasted with that written up. On reflection though it would have been better to ask if anyone had any different ideas as to what constituted an Ideal beach scene which would have been likely to have brought out the desired image. This would have been more involving for the Ss and less potentially threatening to the initial volunteer who had given us his thoughts. 

Nonetheless, the scene had been set and we moved on to the next activity. On being asked to read the text, despite everything that had gone before, the first reaction of one S was to ask me for the meaning of the words he didnít know. It shows just how ingrained into the mindset is this idea that one must understand every word, word by word, when reading a text. However, when I further explained and reassured him and indeed the class that we would deal with the words later they were happy to continue with their reading.  

My reading of the MSI script followed and I was very pleased with how it went. The class seemed to receive it well. There was a slight annoyance in that a particularly loud aeroplane flew over during the reading but I spoke up and remained calm and everybody stayed with their eyes closed so I believe it was overcome. 

Moving on to draw the text the Ss were all quite able to do so with the exception of one of the two late arrivals who was most disinclined to draw, which again brings home the importance of justifying what the Ss are going to be asked to do before getting them to do it. 

By the break I felt very pleased with how the lesson was going. The timing was very precise while allowing necessary fluidity. The music seemed to be having the desired effect. The class was working well as a unit and individually not accounting for the minor problems with the two late arrivals. I felt I was achieving my objectives and that everybody was enjoying the lesson (myself included Ė an important consideration!). 

The Ss seemed content to do the breathing exercise and I felt that at the very least it created a calm and tranquil atmosphere to start back into the lesson. 

The Development Task went very well. After having agreed together that the beach described in the text sounded like paradise all the Ss were able to come up with ways in which that vision could change and the class was able to think of ways to overcome the difficulties that one might have to face. It also showed that all the Ss had understood the basic concept behind the text without any necessity for comprehension questions. 

Although I felt that much of the previous part of the lesson had been more fun the Ss still greeted the Discovery Stage with great enthusiasm and were clearly very keen to get to grips with the words they didnít know. This is perhaps not surprising however. Here the Ssí pictures really came into their own as I was able to utilise one personís drawing (with his permission of course) to help show the meaning of several words. The Ss were able to guess many of the words from the context and with the aid of their pictures. While I certainly guided them in their guessing I felt this was very useful as it showed them that by thinking of what they already knew and which words were applicable to which parts of the picture they were able to guess correctly. One would hope that they will take this with them and be able to utilise the same procedure in their own reading and learning. 

Overall then I was extremely satisfied with the lesson and with the format generally. This was certainly vindicated by my tutorīs comments and by the responses to the questionnaires that were returned. Only one S said they were unhappy with the format and this was one of the two who had arrived late. Consequently this opinion does not strike me as being particularly valid as it may have been significantly different had she arrived on time. Another S said they didnít like to draw but commented that this was only because they didnít think they were very good at drawing. As this was my own initial response to drawing activities I firmly believe that this S could be helped to overcome this problem.

In summation then I feel that this approach is effective and that FL students can indeed access authentic texts and achieve emotive engagement while at a level of ability that they and others may have considered too low. It also shows that a lesson of this nature, which incorporates principles and techniques derived from Accelerated Learning, can indeed be conducted within a conventional course framework.

Works Cited

   

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