In the MLC school lounge at 1:00 pm on Thursday, more than ten students surround one guy. “Oh, here’s a good word, metabolism,” he says, writing it on a whiteboard. “Can anybody explain what metabolism means?” As soon as he catches a comment made by a student, Cam asks if they understood and makes sure that everybody is on the same page. This is a Conversation Hour for MLC students, an activity that Cam has organized for the past three years.
Some students start to speak only when they are asked by Cam, seemingly without confidence at first. Gradually, after a couple of fun topics he offers, students get more relaxed and look like they are comfortable talking in a language they are trying to enhance.
Cam currently supports co-curricular activities and student services at MLC, and studies Data Science at University of Michigan. He has contributed to MLC by giving countless students a lot of opportunities to enhance their language skills outside the class.
“The philosophy that I have always held with Conversation Hour is that it should be a relaxed time for the students to actually practice speaking English in a natural, interactive manner,” Cam says. “Conversation Hour is useful if it gives the students the opportunity to speak spontaneously; classes have to maintain a certain structure to ensure progress, we have more flexibility.” It is true that students usually don’t have much time to have casual conversations during the class, and this kind of co-curricular activity helps a lot for students who want to learn how to communicate well in a relaxed atmosphere.
Another important role this activity plays is to give students a chance to get to know each other, even if they are not in the same classes. Cam describes any day when he has students at different levels of proficiency as a “Good day”. “This is best because the folks in the Beginning Classes may never meet some of the more advanced students otherwise, but the more advanced students are in the best position to share what it took for them to develop their skills.”
It is indeed fabulous to see many students from diverse backgrounds and language proficiencies enjoy the same conversation in one room. Cam says, “MLC is a great place because everyone focuses on making it a family environment. I think that is sincere, the level of care and interest that everyone shows for each other is unique in my experience. So I try to make Conversation Hour personal and let everyone really engage as people. That is the goal at any rate.“
Have you ever joined the Conversation Hour with Cam? You should! The Conversation Hour is a co-curricular activity that you can join with no fee while you take classes at Michigan Language Center. For more information, contact email@example.com.