Sarah Wilson, Monash College
The Rejection Project: An action research project encouraging student interaction outside the classroom

International students are increasingly isolated and disconnected when they attend university and may fear talking English to locals. The Rejection Project is an Action Research project that examines a new classroom method to actively encourage students to overcome their fears and speak English with local English speakers. In this presentation I will outline the project, explain the lessons, results and why this project is important to English teaching in universities.

In The Rejection Project students are given the challenge of speaking English every day to a local English speaker. Classroom lessons included how to approach someone, requesting language, body language, dealing with rejection and diffusing possible dangerous situations. The second part of the project involves the students asking people in English for something they think will be rejected. The aim of this is to desensitise their fears about being rejected by the English speaking public. The participants were all Chinese students studying a university bridging course at Monash College. The results showed that students loved the concept and responded in a very positive manner. They believe the project improved their communication skills, their confidence, their ability to approach people, and their understanding of Australians. It is hoped that this project will be the beginning of a conversation about how teachers can empower students to integrate into the university community.

Sarah Wilson has been an ELICOS teacher for nearly 4.5 years at Monash College and taught at various high schools. She is the winner of the Monash College Engaging Students award for 2017. She has researched and delivered PDs on teacher self-disclosure and learning journeys, various ways of teaching listening, teaching discussion through video modelling and the Rejection Project. In 2017 she was given a Monash College grant to study The Rejection Project as an action research project. This looks at new ways of improving student integration.