We suggest that you write a log of your activities, thoughts and what you have learnt at least bi-weekly. The idea behind this is it gives you lots of practice at writing outside the classroom, but also an opportunity to consider the effect that being a member of an international classroom is having on you and your linguistic and cultural development. Although it is impossible to sum up everything in a diary, the process of reflecting might lead you to develop your own strategies for language and cultural learning. It could also give you nice anecdotes ready to include in emails to friends and family, or for discussion with your language tandems. Plus it is a way to try to capture the essence of your international classroom, for contemplation when it is over.
Here are some suggestions for what you could include. Writing about the cultural ones is probably more interesting, but for the language ones, perhaps just pick one or two things that feel like achievements. For example, you start reading a novel and have a chat about this and other books that you like with your language tandem. And perhaps include one thing that you are a bit annoyed with yourself about. For example, you had something to contribute in your class but feel that you did not get your idea across because you couldn’t find the words you needed.
Language: are you….?
- Reading: newspapers, books, instructions, forms..?
- Writing: essays, emails, notes…?
- Listening: conversations, the radio, lectures, the TV…?
- Picking up new language: what new vocabulary did you learn this week – what was the context?
- Asking questions about language: to who?
- Relaxed using English or not: when?
- Particularly pleased with yourself this week?
- Going to try to improve next week?
Culture: when nothing comes to mind…
- What has happened this week in relation to any of the following and how might this have turned out differently in your own country?
- Festivals – lifestyle choices – bureaucracy – student life – humour – food – the arts – politics…
- What are you particularly pleased that you understood about what is happening around you?
- What are you going to try to improve your awareness about next week?