Monday, February 09, 2009

Welcome to 2009

Welcome to all students! My name is William, and I welcome you to my class (AM4), to Otago Polytechnic, and maybe even to Dunedin. It's going to be a good year.

I'm going to use this blog to communicate with you throughout 2009, and perhaps even after. You will be able to access this even after you complete your course. So keep in touch. Drop me a line--maybe as a comment--from time to time.

I'm going to use this post to clarify for you (and for me) what we'll be doing this first semester. All we English teachers will be following a new Programme Document; we won't be teaching you exactly how we've taught in the past. As for me, I'm returning to ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) after a year of working at the Learning Centre. I did not have my own English class last year, though I did help Pariya's class with online learning.

This is the first year that level 4 ESOL is being offered by me, or by us. It will be a step up for all of us. I did once run a course called English for Further Study when I began working for Otago Polytechnic, back in 1997, up at Tennyson Street up from the Octagon. So I am not a complete beginner, and I'm sure you're not either. (Otherwise we wouldn't have put you in this class!)

Let me now say a few things about the new teaching philosophy, scheduling, course content, assessment and so on. But keep tuned. Watch this spot. Don't turn that dial!

Philosophy of teaching:

The main change that former students may notice is that from time to time you'll be working on your own--or in pairs or groups--without constant direction from any teacher. This is a deliberate push to train you to become more independent learners. The aim is for us to train you ideally to become your own teacher. That way you will have the skills to be able to continue to improve after your semester (or year) ends. Think: 'Lifelong Learning'!

Something else we are going to do more of is to tailor our teaching to your needs. All students are not the same, and they are not at the same point. It is important to work out where each student is before being able to decide where to proceed. To facilitate that, we need to work out what your needs are, and what your preferences are concerning your learning style. Evaluation will periodically be carried out . For each of you we will draw up an IDP (Individual Development Plan) used to determine what work you could include in your portfolio and how best you could work on self-directed study.


Our room for most of the week will be H112. However, on Wednesday afternoons another class will be using that room, so from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. we will move to D201 in Semester 1 (H208A in Semester 2).

On paper we will be working through these 'courses':
  • FN401001 Read extended information texts (Term 1)
  • FN308001 English exam preparation (Term 1)FN402001
  • Write a discussion (Term 2)
  • FN403001 Identify the ideas expressed in extended speech (Term 2)
I have yet to decide how to divide up the courses between morning and afternoon class. On one or two days a week--perhaps Mondays and Wednesdays--IELTS preparation classes will run from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m. Attendance then is optional for full-time students. IELTS content will be provided earlier also so that no one misses out.

Traditionally, classes have conversation assistants come in for an hour per week. I will check with you, but I thought it would be better and more relevant to have graduates from previous years come in to talk with you (not to you) about what they are doing now perhaps at university or in the work force.

Course content:

Our entire programme will certainly be integrated. You shall be practicing all skills concurrently, not confined to one part of the programme or day. That includes Speaking, even though it isn't included as a separate 'course'.

There is no one textbook for our semester of work. I shall select material from a range of many textbooks. We will be using a wide range of authentic materials including magazines, newspaper articles, books, blogs, podcasts, tapes, documentaries et cetera. You will be asked to help select these. The worksheets that you will be asked to do may be generic, and be able to be applied to various texts.


Early on I shall provide you with a short list of dates when assessment will take place, approximately twice a term. In addition, all students will need to keep a portfolio of work. I shall tell you more about that in due course. To achieve a pass, students will need to meet performance criteria for both the assessments and and the portfolio.

1 comment:

Mami said...

It's great to see your new class blog started.
By the way, what was the story with the comment you got from anonymous?
It might confuse your students or distract them from study:-)

I wish you and your students all the best with the upcoming new term at the school of languages at Otago Polytechnic.