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SARA Learning Activities

Fictional Diary 

Asking students to produce creative writing pieces based on the database can help them to develop skills of putting themselves in someone else's position, and imagining what experiences they might have.  This activity combines reflection on the self with research about others' experiences.  By drawing on their previous knowledge about their responses, they are helped to see their previous experience as a resource which they might draw on during the period of residence abroad.  It can be used with students who are going to be asked to keep a diary of their time away.

1.  Students are asked to reflect on experiences which they have had in the past which bear similarities to their period of residence abroad.  For example, coming to university is an experience in which students need to learn to integrate into a different culture, and may involve leaving home.  What did they find easy or difficult about that experience?  What strategies were successful and unsuccessful?  What does this teach them about the way they respond to intercultural experiences?  Can they detect patterns of similarity in their response to events?

2.  Students are introduced to the diaries in the database.  (The diaries can be read in their entirety by searching under any topic; selecting an entry from a diary; jumping to 'beginning of sequence'; and reading through, either one text unit at a time or by using 'This text in context'.)  They are given time to read through a few diaries.  What changes do students write about?  Are their responses to situations different at different times?  What factors influence the ways in which they respond to events?

3.  Students write fictional diary entries, drawing on the information in the database and what they have discovered through reflecting on their usual patterns of response.  These can be for different times in their stay:

on arrival
two weeks after arriving
three months after arriving
just before going home.
Or they can write about events or emotional responses that might occur during their stay, such as:
feeling homesick
feeling euphoric
meeting someone new
feeling lonely
trying a new activity
having an argument
having problems communicating
making linguistic progress
4.  Students share their entries.  Have they written about similar or different issues?  Do they think they would find it useful to keep a diary while away?  What are the advantages of writing about their experience?  What have they learned about how they respond to events?