The American Language Course instructors at Unit 871 in Hanoi use feedback from office hours meetings to incorporate requested subject areas into their lessons.
The American Language Course (ALC) instructors at Unit 871 in Hanoi began implementing regular office hours meetings with each of their students. They created a questionnaire that gave students guidance on how to structure their meeting time. After having students sign up for time slots, English language training instructor, Caleb, began conducting meetings. The students were asked to describe the areas they felt confident in as well as areas they found more challenging. While each student had their own individual concerns and observations, there were some common themes.
First, most students asked for more speaking activities. They offered a variety of ideas for activities like question-and-answer practice, long turn speaking, short presentations, and dialog practice. Therefore, I began to incorporate more speaking activities into my lessons using the target grammar and vocabulary. Recently, the students asked and answered questions about each other’s schedules using verb forms to describe future plans.
One of the majors requested to conduct a short speaking activity with the class. He planned for each student to go to the front of the class and describe a word as the other students guessed what it was. Since his game was similar to the popular game Taboo, we adapted his idea into a game with two teams and a point system. The students enjoyed the extra speaking practice, and the major who planned the activity felt great about his opportunity for more active learning.
Secondly, students wanted more listening practice. Many students felt that the ALC books did not have enough listening activities. Other students wanted slower-paced recordings. As a result, I found additional listening exercises that use dialogs and have a variety of exercises for each one. Thus far, I have found that most students are at elementary or pre-intermediate level on outside digital resources. Upon completion of the listening exercises, I make sure the students read the transcript and listen to the dialog again. This final step helps students solidify what they heard and double-check their answers.
The third common request was related to topics. Many students asked for vocabulary and exercises related to additional topics, such as military topics or everyday situations. I asked several students to come up with a topic each they would like covered in class. This way, the students are engaging in more active learning by providing ideas for discussion and activity.
Overall, the interviews with all the students helped me as the instructor. I have found that simply giving students an open invitation to ask for help is not sufficient, especially for shy students. In Vietnamese society, it is seen as rude for a student to give unsolicited advice to a teacher. Consequently, I need to aid my students in giving their valuable feedback. It’s my job to personally speak to each student and listen to their thoughts and ideas. I’m glad to have the opportunity to gain a clearer picture of my students’ needs. This will help me make adjustments to my teaching methods or class content.