“When the lockdown was announced and we were told the lessons were moving to Zoom, I didn’t know what Zoom was.”
However, Anne Pentecost not only got to grips with Zoom to complete her English for Employees course during lockdown, she increased her Advanced Conversation classes for one session a week to two.
It was the first time she had delivered online classes in a long teaching career, which has spanned 25 years in secondary school French, teaching ESOL to overseas students at Otago Polytechnic and teaching a range of different classes with English Language Partners since 1995.
Anne learned about Zoom by watching ‘how to’ videos, then joined training provided by English Language Partners.
Anne’s husband Ian also helped out, Zooming into Anne’s classes and chatting to her learners while she was logging on. The classes proved a great success.
“The learners loved them!” says Anne. “I felt so sorry for them, going through lockdown so far from their families. So I added an extra weekly Advanced Conversation class.”
“I had all my worksheets ready to flick on to the whiteboard and we used breakout rooms. I really liked being able to get photos of what I had been doing and share them immediately.
“We did all sorts of things. They sent in some marvellous stories they’d written. I corrected them and then they read them out. We shared recipes too.
“We had one session where we looked at the old Mitre 10 TV advert with the three little boys wanting to build a retaining wall and then the later advert with the same boys. 15 years later. We also viewed a snippet from Footrot Flats: The Dog’s (Tail) Tale (New Zealand’s first animated feature film) and listened to the Slice of Heaven song featured.
At the end of lockdown, Anne and Ian invited her learners to tea.
“It’s quite a small house and we didn’t have room for all of them, so we did a morning and afternoon tea and had half at each,” she says.
Once classes resumed at the Dunedin centre, one of her Zoom learners dropped by with a special thank you gift.
“He’s Russian and was a post-graduate student. He’s starting a job in IT now,” says Anne. “He brought me a book about the Trans-Siberian railway. He knew we had been planning to visit China and Russia to go on the railway. It was a very kind gesture.”
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