In class this week I asked my students if they'd ever read something in English they didn't understand. :o) Those that answered said "of course". I told them I would teach them a method I had learned that helped me find meaning in text. I wrote an excerpt from Solomon's wise words on the board and told them to write it in their own words. I was very proud of a lot of their opinions and understandings. We talked about when you read something that is good you should apply it to your life...so I asked them "If you were to live by this, how would you?" They thought about it and a lot of them had incredible responses.
Recently I learned from my students that they DON'T speak English to each other outside of class. This is their biggest struggle in learning English (they don't live in an English-friendly environment). Understanding this made me determined to create an English-friendly environment for each of my students.
I gave each student the challenge to speak English to five people throughout the week about what we talked about in our class. If all 60 of my kids from two classes talk to five of their friends, that's 300 people having English conversations about good things outside of class. Once they'd talked to five people they had to email me the names and responses of those people. Accountability.
I've had several emails already and it's been really neat reading my student's opinions on good things and speaking English outside of class.