Newly arrived ESL students

This week at The Huddle I hosted a group of students from an English Language Centre for newly arrived young people in Melbourne. We worked on language describing objects and memories and each student made a poster on the computer about something they remember from their own country or their past.

To get the ball rolling, I made a set of props available – beads, rocks, leaves, shells and other natural objects. We described these – colour, shape, feel, weight, use, smell, sound – and then explored the memories that came up for everyone around their chosen object.

The students had precious memories of playing with rocks on the dusty ground or finding them in rivers; of their grandmothers or elders who wear or count beads; of the scarves and cloth worn by men and women in their home countries; of the smell of gum leaves and the fact that they are used as a whistle where they used to live. These memories seemed to make them feel happy, included and build a connection and sense of belonging at The Huddle. They went on to make posters reflecting their memories using Comic Life software. The computer is a medium they were clearly not experienced in but they were so eager to make the posters that the technology didn’t pose any barriers!

I found this a useful way of creating a safe space for personal stories, promoting student voice, building language around memory and integrating technology into learning in context – in a meaningful way where students led the process working individually and with each other.

I hope link to some samples in due course.

Finally, The Huddle won a national award this week for Sports Leadership as part of the Migration and Settlement Awards 2013. The work we do at The Huddle includes building belonging and identity through sport, innovation, education and storytelling. This is one example of the many things we do at The Huddle with recently arrived migrants.

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