We started a new canteen class at Oslo VO Rosenhof in September. We are using several methodologies in the class and one of them is based on the “learning by doing” theory by John Dewey. He claims that students’ playing an active role in planning their own activities and carrying them out is a prerequisite to successful learning (Dewey 1939.).
One of the examples of using this methodology in the canteen class is the baguette event, organized and held by the participants of the course. On Friday 26 September 2019, the canteen class arranged a baguette sample tasting for teachers working at Oslo VO Rosenhof. The participants shopped for and prepared baguettes themselves on the same day. At the event (during lunchtime) they held presentations on how they prepared the baguettes and which ingredients they had used to make them.
Two weeks before the event itself, we started working on the vocabulary connected to preparing baguettes in the classroom. One of the teachers at Oslo VO Rosenhof, Lise Sletten, has developed a method called “oral method.” Its essence is that participants are orally active during the classes. While using this method, students can train both listening and speaking skills, and use their motoric skills while learning language.
When working on the relevant vocabulary, we used the previously mentioned method by Lise Sletten. Later, the participants did exercises connected to kitchen utensils needed for making baguettes. And, finally, we made a short video using iPads and summarised the session through a KaHoot quiz.
Getting down to work
As we have mentioned before, we at Oslo VO Rosenhof believe that involving participants in the process of activity planning is extremely important. Therefore, we went to a local cafeteria called La Baguette, where canteen-class participants looked at samples of baguettes served there, took pictures and started thinking of what kind of baguettes they wanted to make for Friday. The day after, they presented their ideas to the class.
The next step was dividing participants into groups, in which they, by the help of iPads, found recipes of the baguettes they wanted to prepare. They presented a list of ingredients and recipes to their fellow students and teachers. Together, we agreed on making four types of baguettes. Each group was responsible to make a shopping list for the type of baguette they would make.
On Friday morning, each group bought the necessary ingredients at a local store and went to the canteen. Before starting to work, we read all the four recipes together, repeated the words on which we had worked before, and divided the canteen into working areas for each group. Groups were responsible for finding the kitchen utensils they needed and for cleaning the working area. While doing so, they told each other and teachers what they were doing.
When the baguettes were ready and the canteen was clean, we took a break to taste baguettes, and participants held presentations for each other.
Later on, we arranged the baguette sample tasting for teachers. Participants got the possibility to hold presentations for a larger audience. We asked teachers to fill a questionnaire: there they had to cross which baguettes they had tasted, how they liked them and if there were any recommendations that they wanted to make. Thus, after the event, the class got instant feedback.
At the end of the day, we held a meeting to go through the feedback and summarise the day. As a result of the baguette sample tasting and the preparatory and summarizing work connected to this event, the participants of the canteen class enriched their vocabulary and developed essential language skills, such as speaking, listening, writing and reading, together with digital skills. At the same time, they acquired job-specific skills and created a great learning environment together while working in teams. “Education is not preparing for life; education is life itself”– claims Dewey (Dewey 1939). We agree with him and consider learning by doing as the key to successful second language acquisition.