- The sessions consisted of a combination of parts: a teacher presentation, class discussions and physical exercises. The teacher presentation would begin the sessions, with the teacher giving the participants an overview of the topics that they were planning to go through that day. Every time the class started working on a new module, the teacher would also present the learning goals to the participants. This way, the participants would know how to direct their attention and what the information would be used to achieve.
The presentations were made to be low on text, higher on visual components. This took some adjustment of the original slides. As the participants also had limited Danish skills, slides with pictures with labels were used to practice vocabulary while providing a visual aide.
Videos and infographics were used to provide the basis for class discussions. These discussions would be prompted by the teacher asking a general question, such as: what does health mean to you? What were the central points of the video we just watched? the purposes of these discussions were:
- To let the participants get more comfortable with the Danish vocabulary surrounding the topics, and more comfortable speaking a language that they weren’t completely comfortable with generally,
- To activate the participants and make the classroom situation feel more engaging. This also promotes the sociality of the group, allowing the participants to build relationships with each other and to feel more comfortable in the space,
- To help participants internalise the ideas that they are introduced to in the presentation, the infographics and the videos. This also let them reflect on how these may apply to their own lives.
During the health module the participants were introduced to chair gymnastics and spent a short time doing the exercises each session. These exercises were good for this group of participants, as many of them were dealing with challenges related to injuries or illness. We also had the privilege to establish a weekly yoga session with a local volunteer organisation, which persisted throughout the course duration, with the option for the participants to continue attending the regular activities after the course ended.
Examples of implementation:
Session on health awareness:
The session started with the teacher presenting the learning goals of the session:
- What is Kvindehuset? (The Women’s House, the volunteer organisation which hosts the yoga sessions)
- Learning about nutrients and their sources
- The body
- Reading, writing and listening to the topic of health
This was followed by an introduction by the teacher, aided by a powerpoint presentation, on Kvindehuset (The Women’s House), the purpose of the organisation and information on two planned visits to the House. This also included an introduction to the House’s website and calendar, letting the participants get an idea of how they might use the House.
Afterwards, the class worked on vocabulary related to the body with the aid of diagrams with labels:
Then, the conversation moved on to nutrition. Here the teacher used the Food Pyramid as a starting point to talk about vitamins, minerals and calories. We used this video to introducing Dietary Guidelines: The official Dietary Guidelines
Following this, the class did some reading/writing/listening exercises related to health from a separate textbook system especially aimed at learning Danish as a second language. The women were trained to be able to formulate their mental and physical condition in Danish. Talk about expressing feelings – focus on how you as a parent can help your child to read other people’s feelings and be able to express their own. We were visited by a nurse and a medical student who told us about the Danish health system.
Feedback from participant(s) or trainer:
- Noted that they learned more about health, nutrition, and exercise.
- They expressed the importance of letting your brain relax.
- They had developed better habits with daily exercise, for example taking a walk.
- They also pointed out that they already knew the recommendations and what is healthy. The problem isn’t that they don’t know what is healthy, the problem is how to apply it to your life when you struggle with mental and physical illness and injuries, as well as a multitude of other challenges.
- Felt that the material tended to condescend to the participants, which is problematic when attempting to make the program both acceptable and challenging to the participants.
- The materials also were originally very heavy on text, which is not ideal for the target group who is unfamiliar with Danish.
- The yoga sessions and the collaboration with the Women’s House was a great success. The chair gymnastics were also popular.
- The session was too long for the participants, who are not used to attending class or working for long periods of time, and who might become exhausted or experience sensory overload, even when using active breaks.
- It worked really well to supply the program with other textbook systems aimed at language learning if they have sections that are related to the topic.
- The size of classes should be kept small, as a disruptive learning environment is a challenge to the target group, who may be sensitive to noise or easily distracted and frustrated.