We wish you a Merry Christmas!

As I complete my very last task before my Christmas holidays begin I remember that not everyone is taking holiday just now or is going to tuck in to as big a meal as I will be enjoying on Sunday.  Last year I worked in Malaysia, a country with a 60% Malay Muslim population with 30% Ethnic Chinese Malaysians some of whom were Buddhist and some Christian, 10% Ethnic Indian Malaysian who were mostly Hindu with a few Christians thrown in and a smattering of Westerners who could have been anything.  As a result, on top of our annual leave, we had 14 public holidays.  Basically we got a day off for everybody’s big celebrations!  It was great!

Now that you’ve got your students online, not only do they have access to a lot of other influences but htey also have the opportunity to share their experiences and family or cultural traditions with the others in a structured way.  If you are directing students to look beyond the borders of Touchstone into other resources, be very clear about where you want them hunt for information and be quite specific about the types of experiences you want them to share.  Teach them to listen actively (‘oh really?’, ‘how interesting’, ‘no way!’) and engage with the different perspectives on the world that are available to them even within their own class.  The more interesting and meaningful they find these conversations, the better and easier they will remember the language used in them.  Take every opportunity to invite comment both in class and online that might highlight differences and similarities in yoru learners’ lives and histories and encourage (polite!) curiosity.  Emphasise that everyone has something to add and can make a valuable contribution through observation and participation.  Celebrate diversity and have all the holidays!

So Happy Christmas if your household is celebrating and for the rest of you have a nice weekend!

My next post will be in January so Happy New Year too!