All language users, learners and teachers alike, are potential mediators: we mediate every day, be it with family, friends, colleagues or strangers. Sometimes it’s because we want to offer our help, other times because mediation is urgent and unavoidable.  As language teachers, we should allocate class time for our students to develop the skills they will need to mediate successfully.

Advancing Learning: Mediating a Text: A Practical Guide to Task Creation (macmillanenglish.com)

Last weekend, I attended Ethan Mansur and Riccardo Chiappini’s talk on mediation, which I think is  a fascinating topic.

In a nutshell, mediation in the classroom refers to when the learner acts as a social agent who creates bridges and helps overcome communication barriers caused by:

  • Different cultures
  • Different languages/language level
  • Different opinions
  • Different ages/personalities/experiences

Ethan and Riccardo first explained the 3 types of mediation:

Mediating a text. This includes mainly genre transfer activities. Students summarize or paraphrase information they have seen, read or listened to. Turn an article into an essay, or an infographic into an article. Jigsaw-type activities also fall into this category, as students exchange information, putting the bits together to reconstruct a text.

Mediating concepts. Facilitating collaborative interaction, which is very important in group work, such as projects. It involves assigning roles, making sure everyone is a mediator, focusing on equal collaboration, contribution and decision-making.

Mediating communication. In other words, facilitating interaction. This one is the most traditional type of mediation. A typical example is asking one person in a group of 3 to moderate a discussion and involve all  parties. The mediator could also have a role such as taking notes or finding common ground.

Ethan and Riccardo shared some activity ideas and then gave us a homework task: to choose one activity that we liked from the session and summarize it for teachers who couldn’t attend. Great way to end a session by the way 🙂

So, here’s an idea that grabbed my attention!

It’s called running dictogloss. Most of you might know the running dictation.

The difference is that the aim of this task isn’t to produce an exact copy of the original text, but a paraphrased version or a summary.

Ethan and Riccardo suggested using a text written in students’  L1, to make it more challenging. This variation can be called running translation, maybe?

Procedure:

  • The runner reads a part of the text in L1 and translates it mentally to L2.
  • runs and dictates what they remember to the writer (in L2).
  • the writer writes down what they hear.
  • they swap roles halfway through.
  • later, they both try to fine tune the text.
  • finally, they compare their version with the original text or answer comprehension questions based on the text.

Simply amazing, isn’t it?

What do you think about this activity? Let me know in the comments!

Further reading:

Here is a great article on mediation by the late great Time Goodier.

You can also read this post on mediating a text. Tips on how to create your tasks included.

Ethan and Riccardo are in the process of writing a book called Activities for mediation: Building bridges in the ELT classroom, which will be published later this year. Looking forward to reading it!

References

Advancing Learning: Classroom opportunities for mediation (macmillanenglish.com)

Advancing Learning: Mediating a Text: A Practical Guide to Task Creation (macmillanenglish.com)

Advancing Learning: Mediation Tasks for Young Learners (macmillanenglish.com)