Chemeketa Community College
Instructor: Gary Fallow
Class: High Beginning Listening/Speaking (38 registered, primarily Hispanic, with others from 6 different countries/language groups).
Fall term 2005
Course description: This class was a pilot listening/speaking class with a workplace focus. Materials used during the term: Workplace Plus 2 text, cassette and workbook Units 1 (“Your Life and Work”), 2 (“Your Environment”), 3 (“Your Equipment and Machines”) 4 (“Your Customers”), and Crossroads Café Units 1 (“Opening Day” and 6 (“Time Is Money”).
The activity: after Workplace Plus Unit 1 and Crossroads Café Unit 1 (in particular, the Culture Clip: “Finding Jobs and Interviewing for Jobs”), I invited a Bilingual Training and Employment Specialist from the Winema Job & Career Center (Worksource Oregon: Mid-Willlamette Workforce Network) to speak to class as a listening exercise and to reinforce concepts gained from watching the Culture Clip and completing exercises in the Crossroads Café text.
Strategies: As a prelude small groups were formed the day before the speaker came to brainstorm predictions about what they thought the speaker would talk about. We had been working on question formation, so the groups then formulated 4 questions about finding jobs and interviewing they could ask the speaker, incorporating vocabulary and concepts from both the workplace text and the Crossroads video. We also reviewed and practiced clarification gambits as a way of checking and confirming understanding.
What worked well: The speaker was fabulous. She spoke clearly but without too many modifications in speed or vocabulary, stopping to confirm students’ understanding at regular intervals. She talked about and brought helpful hand-outs: Tips for Before, During, and After the Interview; Commonly Asked Questions; and Vocabulary Lists for Transferable Skills and Descriptive/Action Verbs. She also distributed a flyer on the Job & Career Center, a Pocket Resume for Job Interviews, and a Calendar of work-related workshops the Center offered. She also gave us the www.workinginoregon.org website for further information. Students had many challenging questions to ask and it was difficult to get to them all in the time we had.
In the debrief afterwards, students were very enthusiastic about both the information presented and their ability to comprehend almost everything. As I took notes during the presentation, I wrote a 17-point True/False quiz on a overhead as a comprehension measure. Most students got all 17 correct and none scored lower than 14.
The best part was the email from the speaker a couple days later saying how much she’d enjoyed the experience (she was nervous at first!) and informing me that several students from the class had already come in to access job-finding services. So the activity had real-life consequences that enabled students to independently take steps to improve their work lives.
What didn’t work well: I wish time had allowed me to take students to the computer lab to access the website as a follow-up. I could also have worked with some of the hand-outs she brought to reinforce concepts and build vocabulary. I had to keep in mind, too, that not all students were in the job market or had intentions of being so.
Next: For next term I’m considering several employment-related special class events related to topics in subsequent units that I hope will be as engaging and successful.