Among the many roles we need to play at teachers, being a spectator of what students have accomplished is possibly one of the most interesting. I have developed fondness for creating situations in which students of different language levels can interact. Learners have done so in online forums, chat rooms, and even by reading and commenting on blogs; yet, face to face interaction adds different masala to the experience, especially when you have a group of advanced G11 students interacting with 6th graders who have been studying the language for less than 5 months.
In this last experience I am describing, I appreciated the leadership 11th graders were displaying, as well as the curiosity 6th graders wore like an armor. It was quite an enjoyable experience to see the surprised faces of Diploma students as the young ones responded to their questions quite spontaneously and naturally, and more so when the young ones started to ask questions, and reacting very bravely to unfamiliar situations.
At the end of the task, as we reflected, 6th graders praised themselves for overcoming the nervousness some of them felt at the beginning, and for becoming more relaxed and in their element once they realized they could actually talk (within a limited range of topics to more advanced students). 11th graders, on the other hand, first stated, “they know more words than we knew at their age, and they even know words we tend to forget”.
This kind of interactions empowers students of all levels to lead and to be led; to speak and to listen; to acquire new words, and to dust what has been forgotten/forsaken. A win-win situation, definitely; as they get to value their progress, and to develop a sense of belonging in the skill level in which they are placed.
As a teacher, this is yet another way to make learning visible for them, and a chance for me to help one another to accomplish new goals.