This year, ESOL Intensive and Roslyn ESOL Literacy groups were fortunate to have had community dance leader Tania Kopytko run some sessions at English Language Partners’ Palmerston North centre.
Tania’s philosophy is that to “dance is to live and to live is to dance” and she has studied dance anthropology at the University of Belfast. She uses her dance and ESOL teaching experience to help our refugee learners to be creative, to laugh together, to practise some English, and to express themselves through dance and art.
With Tania’s facilitation, learners used mime to describe the transfer of skills from their previous life to their lives in New Zealand. They learned to dance together as a group, and also as individuals each telling their own personal story. Topics included introductions, anatomy, directions, movement, and types of work payment. Each person created their own ‘signature’ introduction action.
Shared humour and affectionate teasing between different ‘factions’ and amongst friends in the class was evident throughout the session. Much of the laughter was directed towards one man who described ‘sleeping and eating’ as his ideal way to spend a workday (he is actually a very hard worker and he was making a funny joke intentionally!). The translator for ELP’s hearing-impaired learner showed her strength at speaking without words when she perfectly demonstrated how it is all in a day’s work to return home from work and then have to do lots of tiring housework as well. At the end of the session Tania helped everyone to perform a very graceful dance of a moving spiral.
We love to hear stories from our centres that demonstrate our unique approaches to language learning incorporating community involvement!