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HUM EDU Reading Groups

Reading groups were started in the HUM EDU in 2014 in response to a request from students. Initially run by Ellen Hurst, Mariam Suliman took over in 2015 and continues to run the sessions in 2016. The space is an informal one, designed for students who feel shy to speak out in class because of their lack of confidence in English, in order for them to get comfortable speaking and reading English in the academic context. Different formats and books have been experimented with. The initial book was ‘the Alchemist’ and students would take it in turn to read a passage and then to discuss any unfamiliar words. In 2014, student numbers started out around 10 or 12, but reduced over the semester as other commitments took hold.

In 2015 students read Richard Reeve’s ‘Buckingham Palace District 6’. The groups remained informal in nature but students engaged in more in depth discussion and unpacking of the text. Students enjoyed the book because they identified with the language that characters used, the cultures displayed and the environments discussed. As a result student attendance remained consistent throughout the semester.

In 2016 new book options were presented to students and Eusebius Mackiser’s ‘A Bantu in my Bathroom’ was chosen. Unfortunately, students were not as engaged with this book as they were with the booked used in 2015, perhaps because the book was not a work of fiction. Student attendance was therefore low, especially towards the end of the semester. In the second semester of 2016 we will reintroduce a fiction novel that has relevance to students.