Last night was the last night of Welsh classes for 2014. Now before friends in the northern hemisphere accuse us of laziness, finishing the term in mid-November, do bear in mind it is Spring here in Melbourne and the days are lengthening. It is the end of the academic year, a time of exams and graduations. We are juggling valedictory dinners, with Christmas parties and end of year office events. After which, everyone who is able will head down to the coast for a summer break. So, we finish early and, being Aussie’s we decided to do this with a barbie
This is the first time since starting to starting to tiwtor three years ago that we’ve finished with a BBQ. Normally by this point in the year, I am exhausted and the two or three remaining students who have made it to the end of the fourth term are in a fog of pain and confusion. All anyone wants to do is slink away quietly and lick their language learning wounds.
This year was different.
It started the same as other years, with a large group of learners. I recall looking round the class and wondering how many would stay the course. Surprisingly, this year, we have pretty much retained our starting numbers. I am putting this down to a desperate decision to use SSIW audio lessons as our official course materials.
I say desperate, not because of the said course materials, which are excellent – if you want an overview read Aran Jones excellent short explanation of High Intenisty Language Learning. But the SSiW audio lessons are designed for individual use. I had to somehow adapt them for the group. From the outset, I decided we were not going to parrot the lessons aloud in class. That was homework. The only homework I ever set. Not that I actually had to ‘set’ anything. There was a fair bit of friendly rivalry among class members. Especially as we started each lesson by telling the group what lesson were up to yng Nghymraeg. My job was to facilitate ways of using the patterns students were learning. It was a trial by error process. I made heaps of mistakes. But peopel stayed. And some things actually worked.
- I made flash cards
- We played games like snap and charades and memory
- We had a lolly jar
- I wrote English dialogues for learners to speak in Welsh
- We used the picture dictionary to supplement our vocabulary
- By the end of the year we were using pictures as launching boards for conversations
- We even had a romance between a man from one picture and a woman on the other.
- They met in a tavern, married and had dau o blant (two children).
- Not to mention their dogs and cats and how they liked mynd am dro (go for a walk)
We had fun.
That was the main piece of feedback I received at the end of the year. We laughed heaps.
Three people finished the entire first course. Some have told me they don’t want to go onto the intermediate class next year, using a course book. They want to keep learning the SSIW way. Many are talking about how far they will be able to get during their spare time over the summer holidays. Last night, someone said:
I think Iestyn, Aran and the two Cats deserve most of the credit. But we our class is pretty special too.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me present the Melbourne SSiW class of 2014