Within the past couple weeks, I've been assigned a new class called VIP Get Smart 4, the most advanced English class offered by my school. The VIP portion means the class is longer and occurs twice a week vs. once a week of typical classes.
Two weeks ago, as my student and I read through the portion of the book for that class, I noticed the book mention students should create a questionnaire about who does which chores at home, and have classmates fill it out. Obviously, in my case, it was a single student. As a result, I created the same questionnaire on my ipad and had my student ask the few questions to each person at work at the time (20). Afterwards we reviewed the results and discussed them.
After this class, I began talking with a colleague of mine who has more experience than I being a teacher, he said I could hold classes outside of the work location and would be able to do so with my student given she is 9 years old and very smart. Immediately the wheels in my head began turning. I've had a few ideas I'd like to test out but wanted to get some primary market research to see what the local market is like, even just within the vicinity of my residence and workplace. Luckily, I figured my target demographic would be interested in what I want to offer, and spent time in these same areas!
So what did I do? I created a simple, ten question survey asking the key details I needed to confirm my inquiry regarding the feasibility of my project. Instead of spending two hours reading and re-reading the same old boring text, I decided to take my student out, get her ice cream, and then have her approach my target demographic with my ipad and ask them the questions! This is perfect! My student gets to practice her English with other young Chinese locals (who would also want to practice), it builds her confidence in approaching new people, and my student does the work of collecting the information on my behalf after I explain I am her English teacher. My explaining of being her teacher automatically builds credibility, and level of willingness to participate increased noticeably within moments. The questionnaire is short, the target demographic travels in small groups, and I look like a brilliant teacher willing to do new things with my students to help them learn!
Essentially, I'm getting paid, to have my student conduct research, while still fulfilling my teaching objectives as her teacher. I thought it'd be difficult teaching the toughest class offered and basically being rented out as a private tutor without a pay increase (and in fact a 25% drop in pay/hour because the increased workload). However, I'm working to keep an optimistic point of view. Because my student is so smart, and easy to get along with I can do this experiment for a little bit each weekend. She collects data, continuously practices English, and this gives her a change of scenery which helps keeps her engaged.
I have approached people previously for survey's and received valuable information(I got offered a job from George Brown because I collected 100 responses from students across campus on the wifi and submitted the results to the CIO, who offered me a research job on the topic). Now, I can help my student approach people and give her that slight push where she has one foot outside her comfort zone and the other inside. Hopefully, she comes to recognize that I push her a bit, she's nervous upfront and yet very quickly gets over it once she starts reading the first question. People are receptive to what she has to say because it's for her learning and she's nine years old. I hope going forward, this project can expand and my student will learn some important communication skills such as confidence in speaking with new people.
I'll keep any updates coming!