Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Role reversal

An interesting experiment played out in my class of teenagers earlier this week. My nine-member group of 19-year-old engineers-to-be are an intelligent but rowdy bunch, and the list of “deals” we’ve made to get them speaking English for the full 90 minutes gets longer by the month: no homework, homemade biscuits, finishing five minutes earlier … Somehow this time round they challenged me to speak German for the entire lesson, on the proviso that they’d speak 100% English. What a success! Not only did they only speak English – even when insulting and teasing each other – the unexpected benefit was that given my lack of confidence with German I spoke a lot less, and they filled up the gaps with a whole lot of extra English input. Of course, it’ll be back to English next week – after all, half the point of having a native speaker as a teacher is to hear natural English – but I think both sides really got something out of this experience. Now I just have to see if they do their homework.

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