At the end of the term our students have to demonstrate what they have learned in a final project that is worth about a third of their overall mark. Understandably there is some anxiety about this project. In English they have to read two novels and three supplementary texts, cite nine secondary sources and use proper MLA format in writing a two thousand word essay. Then they have to present the result of all this work to their class, and defend it from questions from their peers and teacher. None of them have had to do any of this before they got to our program, and it is a huge mountain of new material to climb in just one year.

It is a credit to how effective this program is, and the drive of our students to master the curriculum that they do as well as I have seen over the last two weeks. The novels have ranged from Chinua Achebe to V.S. Naipaul, from Dickens to Dostoevsky and have a wide range of topics from archetypical heroes to the problems of racism in modern societies. Presentations must be accompanied by slide shows illustrating the topic and then the student must demonstrate competence by answering questions from the class, some of which can get quite pointed.

For two weeks I get to sit back and listen to my students teach, and assess their work. For the most part I have been very impressed. I don’t have a single student who was unable to present, and given the weight of this project, that means that I will probably see every student pass my course; a great relief to me as I hate to see students fail. Given that English is the second and in some cases the third language these kids have had to learn, that in itself is a huge accomplishment. I am extraordinarily proud of their efforts, and trust that the whole experience, from essay outline to presentation, will prove to have been useful in their future academic careers.

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