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Training at the Iranian Youth Development Association

6 Jan

On Saturday we delivered a training session for the Iranian Youth Development Association (IYDA). The session focused on using participatory tools to differentiate language learning for students of different levels. The Iranian Youth Development Association is a wonderful charity, set up in 1989, that provides Farsi language lessons and Iranian and Afghan cultural education for children. At the training we focused strongly on identity and working with students to talk and write about themselves in their own terms. We had a fascinating debate about the racism suffered by Afghans in Iran. One or two of the participants felt uncomfortable and “embarrassed” as a result. However everyone agreed that it was a really important debate to have though and this kind of delicate issues cannot be silenced. The job of the participatory teacher, along with his/her students, is to foster a learning community where authentic debate can emerge and students can take on throny issues, while at the same time everyone feels respected and supported.

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Student retention

2 Jan

So colleagues, what are your secrets for retaining students and encouraging regular attendance? With informal, community ESOL it can be tricky to keep students attending. For a variety of reasons – classes are open and free, there is continuous enrolment, lack of end of course exams (in some cases), students find work during our courses – some of our classes either struggle for consistent numbers or have a high turnover. If you have any ideas or experience to share please post here!

Ideas to kick-off:

Charge a £10 deposit to commit students to the course
Ask students to text or call when they can’t make it
Call students if they have not attended to ask why and if they’ll be coming next week
Don’t try to cater to all levels – go with the majority and then send the outlying students elsewhere
Set homework that relates to activities for the following week
Include students in course planning
Enlist the help of one of the teachers or parents at the school to encourage people to attend