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Sunday, October 24, 2010

WR1. Annex2. Long life learning. Writing about my learning

ANNEX 2. END-OF-THE-YEAR REPORT Ana V. -·3E (edited version –end of May)

October 2005. My adventure starts. After two years in our EOI, I was ready to start the 3rd level. I was rather nervous because I was under the impression that this course was going to be different.
I remember every detail of the first day. I arrived 15 minutes late and I found a young teacher talking about … fairytales! We spent a very long hour talking about “Puss in Boots”, “Cinderella” and “The Three Little Pigs”. My first impression was weird. I could not understand how English language learning related to those stories that my parents had told me when I was three. Where were the hateful grammar exercises? Silence. That was the first clue that showed me that this course was going to be different.
The beginning of any course is the most difficult, and this one was no exception. I had to start to assimilate a new way or method through which I was supposed to learn English. After my initial doubts, I decided to go along with it and just to get on the train. Let me explain you some of the outstanding features of the skills we practised during the course.

When you are learning a foreign language, writing skills are always the most difficult to develop. For this reason, almost everyday we did a 6-minute ‘quick-writing activity’. In doing so, we had to develop our imagination and write about the most varied topics. Serious ones, like our opinion of the European Referendum, funny ones, like my favourite grammar problems, or simply odd ones, like explain the first time that I had ever been to the Circus (I was just two, how can I remember it?). Though difficult, and sometimes absurd, I did my best trying to write faithfully about topics not always to my liking.
With regard to the reading activities, the love of our teacher for the fairytales was ever present in this task. The main reading activity was the reading of “Shorts Stories” by Oscar Wilde. After the fascinating reading of the “Young King”, “The Star-Child” and “The Student in love” we had to tell the teacher our favourite story. Because storytelling had been one of the skills that we have also developed during this year.
Listening activities have been my favourite. We did all sorts of ‘listening and complication’ activities. Some classic, like listening and write the correct answer and others like visiting the laboratory. The latter has been one of the best ways that I have ever practiced. At the lab, everybody had their own headphones set and we could listen to the tapes as many times as we wanted. Furthermore, we had a large quantity of dictations. In this way, we have developed not only our listening skills but also our writing ones.
The main way through which humans communicate amongst themselves is talking. For the first time ever, speaking activities have been the main focus of the classes. Every class we spend an important part of the time simply talking. Above all, the last month, when we went to a new ‘classroom’: the canteen! Where else could we spend one hour speaking every day? In this task imagination played a crucial role. In spite of the informality of the spoken activities, we also had time to remember that it is very important to have good spoken English. And, for this reason, we did a lot of pronunciation exercises.
Now, the course is nearly finished and I have the huge responsibility of¬¬¬¬ writing an end-of-the-year report. This implies, not only to explain what we have done during the course but also assess what we have learned.

To be honest, I have to say that this year has been full of mixed feelings. During the first month, the situation was rather difficult. We are used to do what we are told to do, when we have to do it and why. Though this is not the best way of learning, we are used to this mechanism and, as we all know, it is very difficult to change routines. However, I have to recognise that this year I was able to develop all the skills we practised. The friendly atmosphere that characterised the classes has made it possible to learn without noticing it (I am not sure about the others, I did indeed). I have worked hard, but it was well worth the effort! My personal assessment is extremely good and I have to congratulate our young teacher for this.

My adventure finishes today and I have to recognise that it saddens me a bit. I have shared this experience with great people: Alicia, Santi, Marisa, Enric…. Let’s hope everything turns out all right next year!

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