What makes games useful in learning is not just that they get people participating, that they involve physical movement and responding to a changing environment, that they require creativity and quick responses, that they create a kind of mini-world in which what we say and do has immediate and obvious relevance and measurable impact, not just that they are fun...
This is a simple tool for equalizing participation in small group discussion and raising awareness of how much people speak. It's probably not original, but I can't recall seeing it before.
In a smallish group (ten people) in one of my courses, I prepared a set of chits -- small rectangular pieces of card stock (cut up index cards) -- and gave each participant five chits (including me).
In my current English for Activists (EFA) course in Tokyo for Labor Now, I have started out by having participants create a learning strategy for the course. I introduced the Que, Para Que, Como, Quien/Con Quienes, Con Que, Donde, Cuando format from Alforja, Vol 1. (El Camino Logico).
The WHAT is simply our course title: English for Activists (most participants are returning, so there is a pretty good sense of what EFA has meant. In any case, defining our objectives fleshes this out.
I've been working with a woman, native Japanese speaker, whose English is very good. She uses me as a "native informant" -- a resource for developing her awareness of English. (She is a Gattegno teacher/student.)
Learned a great opening activity in the Labor Education study group I participate in at Meiji University's Labor Media and Education Center. Needs a good title -- "Still Life with Union Movement"?
The activity is similar to Statues (where participants use other participants to create a statue representing an idea or situation).
Facilitator piles up three or four chairs in the middle of the room, some on top of others, in a jumble.
She asks participants to think of this pile of chairs as "The Union Movement."
Small grass roots movements, unpopular at their inception, play a vital role in society. They provide a critical opposition to established ideas; their presence is a direct correlate of the right to free speech; a basic part of the self-regulation of a successful society, which will generate counter movements whenever things get off the track.
In a society which emphasizes teaching, children and students -- and adults -- become passive and unable to think or act for themselves. Creative, active individuals can only grow up in a society which emphasizes learning instead of teaching.