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In debt

3. Homework collaboration: The last 15 to 20 minutes of every lesson was taken up by a recap of the same lesson in the form of a homework sheet. This was basically a varied repetition of the main hand-out in which students formed different pairs or groups and worked through the homework questions. They consulted each other while I (the teacher) could monitor. This was a relaxed part to the lesson which was used to assess the students’ comprehension and uptake of the lesson in a non-formal atmosphere. The homework was encouraged as a collaborative effort, although each lesson the groups were changed for variety of student input. If not finished by the end of the lesson, this homework was to be continued either individually, or in the same group at home.

At first, students seemed surprised to be allowed to consult each other and even copy work. They were made aware, though, that they were to be assessed on not just the correctness of answers, but also their effort to collaborate positively with each other, i.e. to discuss the answers together and not simply to plagiarize. Active students were evaluated more highly than passive ones in this stage, even though their answers were not necessarily perfect. Examples of the homework set show standard comprehension-style questions as in lesson 4 (Appendix 1), yet in others, for example in lesson 1 (Appendix 2), students were encouraged to use the knowledge and apply it actively by watching and analyzing a TV programme of their choice.

4. Discussion

This mixture of teacher transmission and student collaboration has drawn several observations. Firstly, taking a sociolinguistics course in English with a native-speaker lecturer has brought students into a new “academic discourse community” (Gaffield- Vile, 1996, p. 112) where the language is more specific than that learned in General English classes taken with native speaker teachers of English at the same institution. This lexical challenge necessitated regular recap sessions after teacher transmission in which concepts and their related lexis were clearly summarized and outlined on the board. This is a direct influence from the linguistic sensitivity acquired as a result of


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