The Virtual Majlis: a place to practice English language conversation skills
March 29, 2021
By Debesree Saha, King’s Communication Intern
As a way to help King’s students enrich their English-speaking skills, The Write Place at King’s has organized the Virtual Majlis this term, hosted through Zoom by Sheri Henderson, Professor of Writing. The online platform provides an opportunity for students to practice their conversation skills in English with other students.
The Virtual Majlis runs every Monday from 9 -10 a.m. until April 26, 2021. Anyone with a UWO email can join for free and explore the session.
The Virtual Majlis has received positive feedback from student participants like Yongqi Zou. “My purpose for attending the meeting was to practice my oral English, but gradually I found that what I gained from this event was far more than that. Professor Henderson told me many interesting things about Canada and her experience in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and I also shared my own culture,” says Zou, first-year student.
Zou has taken on a leadership role with the group. The topics for discussion are submitted to Zou and the conversation goes on with a natural flow. Some of the topics discussed are London restaurants, holidays, hobbies and games, along with school information such as Intent to Register.
“I can get to know more classmates, talk about some relaxed topics, and also improve oral English and understand the Canadian culture,” says Mingxuan Peng, first-year student.
While the session is scheduled to be one hour long, it sometimes exceeds that length, depending on the demand and interest of the students. For example, on March 15, and March 22, 2021, the session continued for two hours, showing the interest of the students for the session.
“The Virtual Majlis is an amazing experience for me, especially in this special time period. I met many friends online and we share a lot of interesting stuff together such as movies, music, time management etc. Because I had a great experience on Virtual Majlis, I applied for the summer volunteer work to be an English Conversation Program Facilitator for international students this summer. I realized how meaningful this activity is and I hope I can have the opportunity to do this again during summer for other international students,” says Yifan Zhang.
The Virtual Majlis is intended for anyone who would like to improve their skills in communicating in English. Professor Henderson says speaking in a group in front of others can be difficult for someone who is learning English as a second or subsequent language. It needs practice, which is why the Virtual Majlis is helpful giving people a platform to practice speaking by discussing topics, situations, and relevant experiences.
“My intent is to build community. I want The Virtual Majlis to be a welcoming space where people meet, and discussions happen as a way to gain confidence speaking English. This activity online allows anyone who might not be able to get to the campus to take part in a conversation group a chance to join in,” says Henderson.
Henderson also enjoys being part of the Majis group, and, in the future, she wants to offer these sessions on a more frequent basis. “I would truly prefer meeting with this lively and most engaging group of students on the King’s campus, to show them it really is, a place to be, a place to become,” says Professor Henderson.
“If we get to be onsite in September, and if these wonderful young people arrive on campus, I’ll be there in person to welcome them to Canada,” she added.
For more information and registration visit https://www.kings.uwo.ca/about-kings/visitor-info/calendar-of-events/the-write-place-virtual-majlis/.