Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Report on our 2009 English Club

I wanted to have this report for my memory file, so here it is. Starobilsk's first English Club had a good first year. It had its starts and stops, due to my broken arm and a flu quarantine, but we got the Club up and going. It's been a blessing. This is a summary report of Year 1 as agreed to by members and submitted to Library director Iryna Andreevna.

To Iryna:
The meeting on 20 December 2009 was the 12th meeting of the Starobilsk English Club, which began meeting at the Central Rayon Library on 19 September 2009. This is Starobilsk's first English Club.

Attendance ranged from five to 15 members of all ages and proficiency levels. A corps group comes every week; we also have new people come to each meeting, so we are a varied group. Our youngest member, Vlad, is twelve years old; we have 8-10 students from Schools #1,2, 3 and 4 who attend. They are new to the language and have a limited but growing vocabulary. Some proud parents bring their children. Other members include English-language students from university, teachers of English, and other adults from the community interested in practicing their English.

The English Club has three purposes: 1) to improve speaking English; 2) to get together with people learning English; and 3) to have the chance to talk and meet other English speakers.
The topics of our meetings have been American and Ukrainian holidays, our traditions, seasons, the 50 American states, world geography, travel, family, and discussions of photos, songs, maps, and poetry.

Some meetings had music and performance, such as Alosha on guitar, Ira dancing, Luda and Olga singing, and poetry reading. These meetings show the many talents of our Club. Members also created a Fall Haiku Tree, with their own Haiku poems, and a poster Christmas Tree with their own beautiful decorations.

Fran Cary, our Peace Corps Volunteer, asks these questions: Who are you? What do you see? What do you think? What do you like to do? What does this mean? She likes to show maps, pictures and photos. At a meeting about Halloween she read a poem about a mother and her son going "tricks-or-treating." She was a "flapper" and he was a "soldier." We talked about this tradition and then she told us the poem was written by her mother, and the son was her brother! We like learning about Fran's family and America. These are mostly games as a way of talking, learning, and saying what we think and how we are feeling.

It is okay if we do not remember words, or get stuck in a sentence, because we are ALL learners. We understand that it takes practice to speak a foreign language.
At our 20 December meeting we had a Christmas party. Christmas is celebrated on 25 December in America, with songs and gift-giving. It is a big family holiday. The librarians, Lada and Alla, prepared a wonderful table for us, and decorated it with holiday trees. Members brought cookies and desserts. Fran expressed thanks for the kindness and positive spirit of members.

This group discussed the meeting on 13 December about having an "only-English" rule. Fran said it was good to have such a discussion with many different opinions, and they were all excellent.

The members at our 20 December meeting expressed strong opinion that there be no rules, especially because of the wide range of ages and proficiencies. Members felt we should focus on speaking English but use Russian when necessary.

Luda led a discussion of different topics and themes we could discuss at our meetings in 2010. She did a great job. Here is her list:
* Folk music/fairy tales and cultural traditions
* English poems, old and modern
* Travel/different countries we have visited
* Life is like: A broad topic that can include what women want, what men want, new/older generations, teenagers, healthy lifestyles.
* The Earth is Our Home
* Food and cooking
* World famous universities
* Women in Ukraine
* The World of Books: about writers, famous authors, novels and books
* Historic and interesting places to visit
* Cinema Land, Hollywood, Bollywood (India), old and new films
* Happy days
* Fashion

Fran hopes everyone will pick their favorite topic and help lead a discussion, or come with some ideas and games to share.

The next meeting of the English Club is Sunday 3 January 2010. This will be a new year and a new decade for our Starobilsk English Club.

With special thanks to the Library, the librarians who help us, Luda for helping with this report, and Iryna Andreevna, director.

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