I was working to get everyone to speak Russian today.
My advanced kids moved into their hostels last night (virtual move to Moscow), and I had a map of Moscow laid out on a table. They got to the room before I did, and they were all gathered around examining it. Evidently a map on a wall isn’t fascinating, but on a table it is. They took those post-it arrows and pointed to the locations of their hostels. Thank goodness for Smartphones with google search. It’s a brave new world.
Anyway, it took everything I could do to get them to discuss their hostels in Russian, even though yesterday they had to write to a Ukrainian “friend,” explaining why her choice of hostels was not theirs and they were supposedly thus primed. Once again, they took over the class to make a chart of who is living where, so that they can do Monday’s homework: report on where/what they ate, and one excursion that cost less than $50. (Moscow is an expensive city.) They said that it was a whole new kind of homework. I guess so…really to find out what’s happening in the city, and where cafes are located and what they serve. I don’t have to do anything except be ready for the predictable two or three who won’t get homework done. Those kids are going to be visiting factories and cooking their own food.
Now we’re also starting to look at news that would be interesting to young people in Moscow (the recent sentencing of the singers who sang anti-Putin songs in churches). They do have to know what’s going on in their city, right?
My beginners and I had a lovely time singing the “Blue Train” song, and maybe because I didn’t tell them myself, they were coming up with the metaphors on their own (turning the calendar, going down the tracks ever more quickly, not being able to see again the moments when we did something we’re not proud of). Then we had some time left and I decided to start our prep for the speaking part of their midterm. I asked them for all the verbs they could remember, and they came up with many more than I’d expected. After that, I wrote on the board:
I told them that they were going to get into groups of three, and use Russian only to figure out their characters, the problem, how the characters would try to solve it including where they’d go, and what they would do. I pointed out that if they didn’t know a word they could always use a proper noun. I wandered around among the groups and was happy to hear that they were mostly planning the plots in Russian. Stories work a lot better when the kids start in Russian, rather than in English.
I think it helped to brainstorm all those verbs, to give them a reminder of what they know how to say and can use.