Using Instagram For English Immersion At School

Please leave a supportive comment for my students: https://www.instagram.com/this.is.tj/

Since I was placed here in late 2018, I have been fighting an uphill battle to get my students interested in learning English. Majority don't come from privileged backgrounds with English being spoken at home or in their communities. Students have turned around & taken detours to avoid meeting me in corridors because they have to say "selamat pagi" to me in English. (FYI, I stop them & make them greet me properly in English.) Students have run away from me because they know that I want to involve them in English programs/activities. (FYI, I am demanding. I make it a rule for only English to be spoken & I'm not shy about enforcing it.)

During the MCO, things have gotten worse. I've been struggling to get my students to participate in my online lessons on WhatsApp & I've failed on Google Classrooms. I've tried all sorts of things like making attractive posters/infographics, writing detailed step-by-step instructions, making voice recordings of said instructions in BM, hounding on them via PM/call like a crazy ex-boyfriend, &, recently, I've started giving away mobile reloads every month.

Colleagues on my Facebook page suggested that I create lessons/projects that have real-world value & that I go to where the students are on social media. Currently, Facebook is for older people. Students these days are on TikTok & Instagram. Between the two, I believe Instagram presents less of a barrier for my students to create engaging content in English. Thus, I decided to use Instagram as a place for them to get recognition for their writing & speaking in English, as well as a place to share stories from Sarawak & promote our unique culture.

Additionally, there isn't much information online about my school which becomes a problem when we don't have feeder schools & depend entirely on the willingness of prospective students to accept our invitation to our school. Sarawak is big & many of these students have to travel from far away to study at my state sports school with boarding facilities. "Tidak kenal maka tidak cinta." If there is a dearth of information about my school in the age of Google, there is a smaller likelihood of parents & students accepting our invitations, which has adverse effects on the quality & diversity of our student population.

Also, when prospective students see that our students are using English on social media, they will come to school mentally & emotionally prepared to use English. In the long term, I am hoping that this will trigger a cultural shift away from the current fear & avoidance of English.

Objectives:
1. create a platform for self-expression / creativity in English for students, teachers, staff, & parents,
2. show that students like them, esp their seniors, can use English,
3. expose students to more reading materials in English,
4. including all subjects at the school.

This Instagram page is totally about the students. Thus, its namesake, This.Is.TJ. I deliberately decided against a tag with anything formal like SMK, English Panel, etc. It will be successful when they see it as theirs & desire to be a part of it.

How it works:
1. I assign photo & writing homework on my MCO online lessons. Photos must be original work from my students. I'm strictly against intellectual theft.
2. I choose the best from the work of my students & upload them onto Instagram on a schedule so that they are spaced out.
3. Students can also submit photos + captions that they have come up with on their own.
4. Students of other teachers of all subjects may submit.
5. At the moment, participation is low so I have included a raffle reward system.

Did it work? Yes & no. The majority of the students in my online classes are still crickets. However, there are a few who have resurfaced. Those who have consistently participated in my lessons have also got a new level of recognition for their work. Now, they are on a shared mission to recruit more student athletes by showing that this is TJ & to promote our unique Sarawakian culture to the world.

Please support this effort by visiting https://www.instagram.com/this.is.tj/ & engaging with the work of my students. You will have a direct hand in English immersion at the Sarawak State Sports School.

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