PILOT COURSE ORGANISED FOR THE NATIONAL MUSEUM KRAKOW - SUMMARY
Following the successful provision of the language training for a group of 25 staff of the National Museum in Krakow, which comprised 30 contact hours* and 7.5 hours of individual work (online component), this summary captures the course outcomes.
The coursed, delivered from March to mid-May 2013, was explicitly designed for the students’ needs identified in the placement testing carried out in December 2012 in among a preselected group of the National Museum Krakow staff. The course overall aim was to provide them with practical and useful language that they would be able to use in everyday situations. Because of this, there was a heavy emphasis on communication, especially speaking and listening, and less of a focus on reading and writing.
Each lesson revolved around a concrete real-life situation which the students could see had an obvious and relevant use in their lives. Specifically, there was heavy use of flash card work both with images and texts. After familiarizing themselves with this new lexis, the students were able to record it and then use it in controlled practice, for example in questionnaires or simple dialogues. The clear goal of every lesson was to perform these dialogues in twos or threes in open class, thereby encouraging the students to feel confident when speaking publicly. These methods were supplemented by artwork and games to inject the lessons with energy. Movement was a key technique in our approach as most of the course learners worked in roles where they were static for most of their working day, for example in customer services.
Measured by the CEFR, the course participants started at the A0 – Beginner level. This means that the teaching approach mentioned above was necessarily rigid at the beginning of the course. However, the lessons were designed so that previous vocabulary and structures were repeatedly being recycled, which meant as the course progressed, dialogue work became freer and the students were able to communicate more naturally.
Because students were continuously practicing speaking in presentations, role-plays questionnaires and other speaking exercises, there was a permanent opportunity to gauge their progress. As of a result of this, subsequent lessons were modified in order to
take into account the students’ progress. Indeed, in most cases material had to be made more challenging and sophisticated as the learners made very rapid progress.
In terms of more concrete testing, students were given bi-lesson vocabulary tests and one mid-course and one final test. In addition, there was also a quiz at the course end (week 8) which acted as a form of soft assessment of progress. All the tests were done in pairs so that the learners could collaborate, share knowledge and crucially, take away the traditional stress associated with assessment. It was important to remember that most learners had not been in a language learning environment for over twenty years and, first and foremost, the priority was to put them at ease.
Every student in every test scored over 70%, which is clear evidence that they made real progress. More subjectively, but arguably more importantly, students started the course not being able to communicate but by lesson fifteen, were able to converse in a variety of everyday situations. The course gave them the ability to use English, to enjoy it and to set them on a solid foundation to develop their language skills.
As the end-of-course scorecard questionnaires revealed, the students’ satisfaction with the course was very high, and 80% of the students felt encouraged to continue studying English. Almost 95% of the students are likely to recommend English courses at the British Council.
It is highly advisable that the students further improve their English language skills, be it in a professional context of their workplace or through autonomous study, in order to maintain the effects of the course. As some of the student found individual work with online components somewhat challenging due to the varied computer literacy of the group, the British Council Krakow is ready to assist the students with additional support. An idea of organizing a “refresher” lesson for each of the groups in the future, to enhance student motivation to study English, is one of the options for offering further support.
Teaching Centre Coordinator, British Council Krakow
MVST during the english classes in British Council
After deep insight into our target group and their needs we’ve prepared the e-learning prototypes:
E-LEARNING PROTOTYPES TESTING SESSION
On the 14th of May there was a testing session held in the National Museum in Kraków. Below you can find the report from the testing session.
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