There was a second session last night, which was again interesting. A lot of what I observed links with much of my other OU courses.
First of all it was noticeable how much the students learnt by talking to each other. This was evident even before we really started when one student helped another in completing some questions about the concept of fragility.
The next part of the session involved the students in constructing objects so there were many language phenomena which were interesting. These would seem to be language in action (Carter and McCarthy 1996). One interesting feature was the use of informal language while on task - eg "It is tricky/it is a bit fiddly". This reminds me somewhat of the hybridity referred to Gutierrez et al (2003).
There was a brief exchange in French between two French speaking students that was perhaps useful in enabling them to do the task. Perhaps, this use of languages other than English could be encouraged, especially if it makes the task more efficient and then the students would need to report in English so they still have scope for practising the English they need.
Carter R and McCarthy M (1996) Exploring Spoken English Cambridge: CUP
Guttierez K., Baquedano-Lopez P, and Tejeda C (2003) "Rethinking diversity: hybridity and hybrid language practices in the third space" in Goodman S., Lillis T, Maybin J and Mercer N (eds) (2003) Language, Literacy and Education: a Reader Stoke on Trent: Trentham