Here at Lexis Byron Bay, we pride ourselves on making all our English lessons dynamic, student-centred and interactive, and this often involves taking the learning outside of the classroom and on excursions.
English is a skill, just like surfing or driving a car. Therefore, you cannot learn it by study alone. The key to improving is practise, practise, and more practise. English classes should be highly communicative, with the students doing most of the talking and teaching acting more as a facilitator and guide.
Yesterday, I was pleased to see three different classes leading their students in communicative activities in the sun. In Byron Bay, we are so lucky to be blessed with gorgeous weather and lots of outside areas, so most classes do some of their lesson outside every day.
One fun activity the Intermediate class did recently was to practise modal verbs of deduction, for example, ‘He must be tired’, ‘She might be sleeping’, ‘They can’t have gone’.
Students were told to walk around the campus and discuss what they thought people were up to. Then they took a photo so that they could present their ideas to the rest of the class.
Here’s a photo they took of me. I’m pleased to say the caption they wrote for my photo was, ‘She may be doing something important.’
And, this one shows that humour can translate into any language. The caption some witty student wrote was ‘She might be trying to escape’. 😊
But we don’t just stay at school either. One of the best ways to learn without it feeling like hard work is to go on an excursion. Students then get lots of opportunity to socialise and have real conversations, often with native speakers while performing a task directly related to the language focus of the day/week.
Here’s a look back at some recent excursions that classes from Lexis Byron Bay have done.
Excursions to the Farmers Market
The local farmers markets are universally popular. We have a great one just down the road which runs every Thursday morning but there is an even bigger one in Mullumbimby on Fridays.
Classes often go to the market when the topics are food, shopping, money or descriptive writing. Here are some reviews an Advanced class wrote about Mullum’s farmers market.
“You can find lot of variety stalls that include home wary, bread, fruits, baked goods, and many other things. It is a place full of life, where you can lie under the sun, listening to live music and having an enchanted morning.”
Kao & Marta:
“The market has a really chilled and hippie atmosphere, where you can find organic food and local products. It was full of life and colors!”
Anna & Silvia:
“You can buy organic food, while having a good time. What we loved most, was the easygoing vibe and good music!”
Marcus & Pol:
“Mullumbimby Farmers Market is a lovely place with delightful food. For me it was a beautiful experience and I encourage anyone to go there!”
On another farmers market excursion, Kathleen’s class were given tasks to practise the week’s grammar (ability) and vocabulary (phrasal verbs). Then on their return they worked in pairs to make stories using as many phrasal verbs as they could.
Excursions to the Library
Another popular excursion is the local library. The library is a useful place to know in Byron Bay as it’s where students can go to use computers, do printing, read newspapers and magazine or study in quiet spaces. Of course, they can also borrow books, audio books, DVDs and CDs.
One Intermediate class recently went on an excursion to find out more about the library facilities and were given the following tasks to fulfill:
- Find ten things you can do at the library. Which of these are you likely to do in the future.
- Find resources (eg. books, magazines, CDs, DVDs) on five different topics; these might be topics you’re interested in, or topics you know nothing about but are curious to explore. Take a photo of each to help you discuss it later.
- Find the Foreign Language section. Is there a book in your language? Would you like to read it?
- Find the Travel Guidebook section. Which of these guidebooks appeal to you?
- Some of the rooms on the eastern side of the library can be booked for seminars, tutorials, meetings or private study. Is this facility useful to you? How would you use it? Which room(s) do you prefer?
- Find the Community Notices (on the left as you enter the library proper). Does it provide any information that interests you?
- The Loan Goat Gallery opens at 10.00 am. View the photographs in the exhibition and identify three that grab your attention. Identify at least one that does nothing for you
One of the most creative excursions was to Brunswick Heads in search of fairies!
Brunswick Heads is a gorgeous town about 20k north of Byron Bay. It’s a popular tourist area with great beaches a beautiful river and lots of great eateries. No wonder, then, that the fairies have moved in.
Around September 2015, people started noticing that gorgeous little fairy houses had suddenly and mysteriously started springing up all over the town.
Today over 30 little fairy houses hidden in little nooks and crannies make up the Brunswick Heads Fairy Trail. And the fact that they are all hidden away just increases the delight for both young and old when they are discovered.
Our teacher, Elizabeth split her students into two groups and sent them out to hunt down as many fairy houses as they could find.
Here’s another creative excursion that Elizabeth created. In her Upper Intermediate class, the subject was Art and they were looking at language to describe photos (Cambridge Empower B2 Unit 4C). Expressions they learned included: close-up, closer shot, more distant shot, from further away, from a different angle, in the background, in the foreground and out of focus. They then went out into Byron to take their own shots before coming back and presenting them to their classmates (and the Advanced class), using the target language.
With our location near the sea, we also enjoy doing excursion down on the beach or to learn about the history of whaling and seafaring in the local area.
One Intermediate class had been discussing the natural world and environmental issues.
After doing a reading about water pollution and listening to an environmental journalist discussing her work with whales. They went down to Main Beach on an excursion to see what environmental problems they could identify and to discuss possible solutions.
And another class travelled to Ballina to visit the wonderful Naval and Maritime Museum.
Benefits of Excursions
Even today, as I’m writing this blog, some Pre-Intermediate students have been walking round the school practising giving and receiving directions, while another class is at the markets. We strive here at Lexis to always makes classes relevant, interesting, and fun and going out and about on excursions is just one of the ways we do this.
Indeed, when students give feedback on their classes it is often the excursions they remember. And they often ask for more. The following list of benefits, adapted from the article Importance of Everyday Excursion for Students, explain why excursions are such a valuable learning tool:
- Practical knowledge is better than bookish knowledge – if you are a visual or kinesthetic learner, in particular, you will learn much better by actually seeing or doing things rather than just hearing about them.
- Educational trips organised by schools serve as a miracle stress buster – they relax students who are otherwise anxious in a competitive classroom environment and provide a break from the routine of a usual day in school.
- Excursion are interactive – One of the main benefits is that they allow students to freely interact with friends, teachers, and others. This is particularly important for English students as they get to mix with native speakers in a variety of real-life contexts.
- Excursions are real-life – again, for language students, this is key as students need to gain the confidence to feel comfortable using their English in real-life situations not just in the classroom.
- New opportunities – often school excursions can take students to places they couldn’t go alone perhaps because they don’t have the transport or they a minimum number of people are required for booking.
- A new perspective – for example, our excursions out and about in Byron Bay introduces our students to the local culture. Student learns about the things that are important to the local such as organic produce and protecting the natural environment.
So, if you want to learn English but are worried that you hated school, don’t worry. Learning English at a Lexis English school is not boring at all. You can make lots of new friends and see lots of new places by studying at a Lexis English school.
Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE, and English plus Surfing in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.