18 July, 2017
For many English learners, speaking is the most difficult part of the language to master. To improve your speaking skills, you need to be able to practice with other English learners or English speakers.
One way to do this is by joining – or starting – an English club. In today's Education Tips, we discuss how English clubs can be helpful to your language-learning process.
This is part one of a two-part series on English clubs. In this episode, we offer advice for how to start and organize an English club. In next week's episode, we will suggest some fun and educational activities for your club.
English clubs for language learning
There are many reasons why English clubs can help learners of all ages and levels improve their English. The most important reason is that they offer learners a chance to practice English by actually speaking it.
There are other advantages, too. English clubs are less formal than a classroom setting. Many learners find them more fun than usual English classes. They also let learners practice English in more real-life situations. This can increase a learner's desire to practice and learn on their own.
Bonnie Norton and Ernst Von Glasersfeld are learning theory experts. They say that using a language in authentic situations is very important for learners. So is being motivated to practice and improve, they say.
Now that you understand some of the benefits of an English club, let's discus how you can create your own club.
Starting an English club
Step1: Finding club members:
The first step in starting an English club is to find club members. There are different ways to do this.
If you are a teacher creating the club for your students, then the easiest way is to put up signs in classrooms advertising the club's first meeting. You can also pass around a sign-up sheet in classes.
If you are trying to start a club at your place of work, you can advertise your club by sending an email around to coworkers. You can also put up signs about the club around the workplace.
If your club is open for anyone to join, you can use the internet to find members. Websites such as Meetup or Facebook are great places to announce club meetings and communicate with members.
Step 2 – Find a meeting location:
Next, you must find a place for your club to meet. This step is very important. The location of your club will affect how many people come to your meetings. It is important to consider several things when choosing a location.
First, how easy is it for members to find and get to the location? It is a good idea to find a central location that is easy to get to. Otherwise, members may slowly stop coming. Second, it is important to find a location that is safe. You want your members to feel comfortable as they are arriving and leaving.
If you are a teacher, the easiest location is probably in a classroom or another room in the school building. English clubs often meet after school or work hours. This can make it easier to find an available room.
If you are creating an English club outside of a class or work setting, consider holding meetings at a cafe, restaurant or bar. These places often have enough space for large groups. Club members coming straight from school or work will also have a chance to eat or drink something.
Wherever you meet, make sure to speak with the owners of the business or building and get their permission.
Step 3 – Holding your first meeting
The third step is to hold your first meeting. The first meeting is important for every English club. It is a good idea to use the first meeting as a chance to talk with members about logistics. This includes how often and where the club will meet, whether or not there will be membership fees, and how the club leadership will work.
Club leadership is one of the most important parts of starting an English club. If you have a good system of leadership, your club has a better chance at lasting.
If your club is small enough, or more informal, sometimes all you need is one person to lead the club. The main responsibility of the one leader is to organize and lead the meetings. The leader also must communicate information to club members.
However, if your club is large, it is a good idea to have a group of people that can help run the club.
This kind of leadership is useful for many reasons. It divides the amount of work it takes to run a club among several people. It also helps club members practice speaking English with real-life tasks. And, if the members of your club are mostly students, it can help them develop teamwork and leadership skills.
It is also important to have rules for the leadership system. For example, how long will club leaders hold their positions? How will they transfer power to someone else if they must quit the club? You should consider holding elections to choose new leaders.
Whatever leadership system you choose, the goal of an English club remains the same: to keep your club members motivated to continue participating. So, club leaders should not try to do everything themselves.
In fact, it is a good idea to give tasks to many different club members. This makes the members feel important. They are more likely to remain committed to the club. And it can increase their desire to learn.
English clubs can take many forms and serve many purposes. Following these steps will help any club have a successful start.
Join us next week as we talk about fun and creative activities to do with your newly formed English club.
I'm Jill Robbins.
And I'm Phil Dierking.
Phil Dierking wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Hello readers! For part two in this series on English clubs, we would love to hear about your experiences and ideas for club activities. We are looking for people who are either in an English club or have had experience with one, or have started an English club. If you fit this description and would like to answer a few questions about your experience for our article, please let us know in the "comments" section below, or on Facebook page, and we will get in touch with you. Thanks!
Words in This Story
advantage - n. something (such as a good position or condition) that helps to make someone or something better or more likely to succeed than others
authentic - adj. real or genuine
benefit - n. a good or helpful result or effect
club - adj. a group of people who meet to participate in an activity
committed - adj. willing to give your time, energy, etc., to something
logistics - n. the things that must be done to plan and organize a complicated activity or event that involves many people
motivation - n. the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something
task - n. a piece of work that has been given to someone