Making a Difference – Part II

My last blog post was about showing learners how they can make a difference in class using a short narrative. Over the coming weeks I’m writing about teachers I know who are going the extra mile and making a difference in their classes or courses.

I am going to start this off with this post about Jason Levine, a teacher who I’ve recently been observing online. Jason goes by the name “Fluency MC” and he recently started an online course called “The Weekly English Workout”. Earlier this year, I taught a class using one of his songs. “Get a Life” tells the story of a boy from a tough environment who manages to succeed despite the odds. It contains 112 phrases using the word ‘get’. My students loved the song so I was curious to see what Jason would be doing in his new course.

Jason kindly invited me to observe the course, so let me give you a quick breakdown of what he’s doing. The course contains a series of videos and activities that learners can watch and practice. I found these videos and activities very engaging, and I could see my students really getting into them. Jason’s motto for learning English is for learners to “follow the 3Rs: Relax, Repeat, Remember.” His demeanor in the videos certainly made me feel comfortable and relaxed. There is also a lot of good repetition and practice, and the technique he uses will certainly help learners remember. I can remember almost all of the introduction rhyme he uses even though I’ve only heard it a few times. It’s very catchy!

After the students have completed the activities each week, there is a live lesson every Sunday. Students are given the chance to join Jason in a live class for 90 minutes. Jason usually begins by answering questions or helping students with any issues they’re having. He then moves in to a series of activities and invites people to join him and practice. There is also a private Facebook group, and each day Jason posts activities and responds to questions and comments. Members of the group are also encouraged to post audio messages. It is these two features of the course where I think Jason goes the extra mile and really does make a difference.

Let me explain the live lesson first. Throughout the week, Jason encourages the group to post questions for him to answer in the live lesson. He also does this at the start of the live lesson too. I’ve observed a few lessons now and Jason has given some great feedback to each and every question that has been posed to him. His explanations are very clear and you can really see how much this is appreciated by the learners. As teachers, we always strive to answer our students’ questions and help them with difficulties, but I’ve been very impressed with the diligence he has shown to each member of the group. It’s clear to me he really cares about their learning and progress.

In the Facebook group too, Jason has responded to every single post, and there have been a lot! Students post audio recordings of themselves, and Jason listens and offers feedback and advice to every single recording. In the few weeks I have been observing, the group has a real community feel to it. Jason has been encouraging the members to support each other and they are doing just that. I believe they have even established their own Skype group to practice by themselves. It’s pretty impressive to observe!

I have signed up a few of my students to The Weekly English Workout. Although I haven’t had the chance to talk to them in detail, they have told me they love the course. I’m going to sit down with them and find out exactly what they think of it in a week or two, so please look out for that blog. In the meantime, I really recommend checking out the great work that Jason is doing. There is even a free Weekly English Workout Starter Course where learners can get 5 Video Workouts, one Live Class, and the Fluency MC Songbook. I’d certainly recommend taking a look and encouraging some of your students to get involved.