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Talking Talking Talking

 
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FreakingTea



Joined: 09 Jan 2013
Posts: 160

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:34 am    Post subject: Talking Talking Talking Reply with quote

The way I usually get my students to talk, and it works pretty well, is to introduce a topic, review some useful vocabulary with a puzzle or something, write a discussion question on the board, get the initial yes/no shouts/nods, present a couple points of view, and then walk around to ask some of the students individually. They stay in their seats, and just talk to me. Usually I ask a couple follow-up questions about their answers, and generally try to take the pressure off by smiling and making them chuckle when I think of something. A few rounds of discussion questions will eat up most of a 45-minute period if I want. I enjoy hearing their answers.

This would probably be an okay speaking plan for one-on-one teaching, but my class sizes range from 20-40. I know they get antsy when I'm not talking to them or their group. Only the better students take the time to prepare an answer. In the beginning I tried to get them to discuss the questions in groups, but it just wasn't happening, so I switched to the above version.

Does anyone have any advice for getting uni students to talk to each other, and not just when I'm hovering? I've done dialogues with mixed success depending on the students' levels and interest. Maybe I can try another type of dialogue. Mingling is impractical for most of my classes, and I'd rather not make 300+ handouts. Any feedback on my lesson format is welcome.
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rogerwilco



Joined: 10 Jun 2010
Posts: 1159

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have them discuss the topic in pairs, and prepare an answer to give to the class.

If you want to be strict you can tell them that their discussing the topic in Chinese will cause you to have to give them homework. Speaking only in English, no homework.


Last edited by rogerwilco on Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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teenoso



Joined: 18 Sep 2013
Posts: 219
Location: east china

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not easy , and what works with one class can bomb with another.

One way to 'force' group discusssion is if you give each sub-group a different aspect of the topic , or a different question, and then after discussing it, the group (one or two reps) reports back to the class on what they discussed, and their conclusion.
Some groups will do a good job , some will half- *ss it. And sometimes all groups in the class do the latter, which can be disheartening.

Information -gathering exercises (like surveys) can work well, but you need some space to mingle, otherwise they have to line up against the walls. Speed-dating type exercises , where the students repeat the same dialogue over and again, by moving on to a different partner can be good in some classes.

I have also done mock job interviews , where a group of 4/5 forms a trading company with assigned roles to each student - then you announce 'all sales managers have been fired and need to find a new job at a different company' ; so the sales managers move seats and get interviewed by another group. Works well, if classroom layout and furniture allows.
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have to persist.

I see a lot of newer teachers (dont know if thats you or not) who get quickly discouraged with pair and group work and fall back into controlling the class with a teacher > student interaction pattern.

You have to put them into pairs time and time again so they get used to it. Ignoring pair work is a typical newbie mistake I think.

I frequently remind my students that pair work is their chance to practice. To get their ideas out and work together to organise them into concise and simple answers with correct form, grammar and pronunciation. It also makes more sense to get student A to answer for student B. That way they need to listen to their partner properly and peer correct him and his answers before telling you / the class.

At that point I think the teacher has to be quite on the ball with error correction too. Ignoring it is another newbie mistake I think. When students are 'trained' like this, they will eventually become more accurate and better at using English. They will start to recognise the value of the pair work in organising ideas and ironing out mistakes and be better prepared to speak out with more accuracy.
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FreakingTea



Joined: 09 Jan 2013
Posts: 160

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I see a lot of newer teachers (dont know if thats you or not) who get quickly discouraged with pair and group work and fall back into controlling the class with a teacher > student interaction pattern.


That's definitely me, and I don't want to be! Thanks for the advice. I will just have to keep pushing and experimenting.
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 2318
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mingle/cocktail games are good, but you need an open space.
Games that can be played in the bolted down rows set up are:
Pairing games, where pairs of cards are randomly distributed and each student must come to the front and ask questions that will identify their partner. One format seeks the student's twin according to 4/5 criteria. Another tries to locate their lost pet in the same way.
I also have a Western Zodiac exercise that enables students to interrogate each other on Zodiac attributes - romance, career etc.
I use these in the university setting and while they may seem juvenile our students are 3/5 years behind their Western counterparts in sophistication levels. Also we are usually teaching English at a basic level.
The dopey ESL lesson plans one sees all over the net that gush 'form your students into small groups and let them discuss their holiday plans IN ENGLISH' just don't work IMO - at least not in the tertiary sector.
The advice to OP not to revert to the teacher to student model is apt.
Just find other ways of having students interact without your intervention.
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