One of the main benefits of host teaching is the ability to reinforce what you have taught with an afternoon activity. Clearly this has to be planned around the students needs but they can certainly achieve two objectives, providing an interesting excursion and developing their language awareness. That is where the immersion bit comes into our courses!The concept of Excursions is an area that many of you will undoubtedly be familiar with already and the ideas outlined below are by no means intended to be exhaustive or written in stone.I’m sure that many of you have a host of wonderful ideas and places for Excursions and I would be delighted to receive your comments, suggestions and feedback for improving them and making them even more interesting!!What is an Excursion?An Excursion is a local visit made by a student, unaccompanied or with their teacher, which involves them using their English in ‘real-life’ situations. Examples of a visit might be a museum, art gallery or local shops. One resourceful InTuition teacher has created a Treasure Hunt for students, revolving around the local theme of Pooh Bear.Why involve students in Excursions?
- An excursion can be a multi-task activity which integrates all the language skills
- Students experiment with language in a real situation
- It helps build up the students’ confidence in communicating with different kinds of people
- It adds variety to ‘indoor’ lessons and provides the student with a focus during their free-time.
Some students may initially feel reticent about going out alone or not see the point of an Excursion.. It is important to try and make the benefits of such trips implicit and to build any language work that is required into regular classes. Naturally they are not intended as an alternative to lessons but rather a way of complementing them.An Excursion Step-by-Step1. Identify possible places of interest – most teachers can advise students on possibilities in the area but students can also be actively involved in the information-gathering process. Try using websites, or even the Yellow Pages, which often has a section with local places of interest, as this gives the students reading practice with authentic texts.2. Determine what language skills your student will need and build input into lessons. This might involve a variety of skills, such as being able to make phone calls to find out opening times or asking for information. By building and practicing a model dialogue with your student and then taping it, you can give feedback and focus on intonation, appropriacy etc. Prior to the actual visit you could brainstorm some questions with your student which they then have to find out the answers to. Alternatively you could make a worksheet for them to fill in, or a tape which they have to listen to during the trip.3. During the Excursion itself, encourage your student to collect as many informational brochures as possible and make a note of any new vocabulary they learn.4. It is really worthwhile exploiting the student’s own authentic experience of the language they used as a further focus for language extension activities in lesson time. Get your student to explain the trip and any brochures, and to discuss their experiences and any cultural issues and differences. By taping this you have more live material to use for work on collocations, reformulation etc.5. As a possible follow-up, your student could write a report on the trip or even an email or letter to the place visited, indicating what they particularly enjoyed or would like to see improved.Here is a (far from exhaustive) list of possible places for an Excursion:Museums, farms ( one host tutor takes their students to a Sheep Auction!) , local shops and markets, libraries, live recordings of radio/TV shows, music stores, art galleries (the audio tapes are excellent), guided walks and city tours, public lectures, local schools/universities, museums, ( they usually have education worksheets upon request) local law courts (always a hit), Stately Homes, historic monuments and gardens, markets, bookreadings, cinemas, restaurants, pubs, banks, travel agencies, sports centres. It may not be something many of us can arrange but definitely one of the most interesting was a “Speed Dating” event where the student got to use the language of persuasion, description, past and future tense, question forming and last but not least some useful phone numbers!Any more ideas for excursions and techniques to use would be much appreciated.