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Starting extracurricular activities


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I'd like to hear some of the experiences of teachers who have started clubs or other extracurricular activities for your students.

1) What did you do?

2) Was the club successful? Why or why not?

3) How many people attended?

I would love to hear your experiences. :D

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Here is part of one of my old posts describing my club:

Last year at my university that I teach at in Shanghai, I started an extracurricular “Literature Club”. I am a strong believer in the necessity of extensive reading when learning a language; thus, I wanted to not only improve students reading abilities and vocabs, but also to allow them to hopefully enlighten them a bit about Western literature and culture. With our current intelligence-insulting curriculum, many gifted students are bored senseless, so I wanted to reach out to them.

Out of my own pocket, I bought “literary” books by Hemingway, Faulkner, Salinger, Amy Tan, Ha Jin, Alice Munro, Vonnegut, Maya Angelu, Harper Lee, Kundera, Alan Paton, Lin Yutang...etc. I also bought some entertaining best-sellers like Elmore Leonard, John Grisham, Stephen King books...etc, which have the added bonus of mirroring the spoken language. Lastly, I bought many abridged and simplified books of about 40-80 pages. All of these can be checked out from me for free. I hoped to provide an alternative to the free public domain books students usually try to tackle (Henry James, Dickens…etc.)

Once a week we meet and discuss a short story, poem or essay. I, and a few other teachers, help to answer any questions they have about their books. No doubt, the Club has influenced a few people, but the attendance still hovers at just 15-20 people per time. My friend runs a similar club for current events. The university also has an English Corner. In all three cases, the same core of 15-30 motivated/geeky students goes to all of the activities. Why do hundreds of others students not attend these free activities? Reasons:

1) PC games.

2) Laziness

3) Not intrinsically interested in English or Western culture.

4) Chinese students spend amazing amounts of time in class per day, and thus need to rest, relax and do their homework.

In a nutshell, unless these activities are institutionalized into curriculum, the majority of students simply won't care or will not be able to spend a significant amount of time on the activities due to the opportunity costs of losing studying time towards something else.

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