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Conversation Classes

Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:46 pm
by MaureenQC
I give 2-hour classes of English conversation once a week to multi-level baby-boomers who have varying levels of knowledge of grammar. We use a lot of speaking activities (role play, board games, pictionary, mystery & alibi games, and much, much more).

I also add in exercises to increase their vocabulary and to correct their more major difficulties (time & place prepositions, idioms, phrasal verbs and collocations). In both cases (speaking acitivities and paper exercises) most of the students thank me and ask for more making me think I might be on the right track.

However, one or two insist that the paper activities be completely eliminated, keeping only the speaking activities. Is my approach wrong?

We also offer an intensive 1-month boot camp (3 hours/day, 3 days/week, 4 weeks) with only speaking activities.

Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:40 pm
by Sally Olsen
You might have one or two keen students who do their own work with textbooks or online courses and just come to you for the conversational aspect. I would ask more questions to find out what they really mean

Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 8:47 am
by beckibenedict
Are you in Japan? I've taught many of these classes with the same requests from students.

You could try doing anonymous feedback in your next lesson. Simply ask them for comments and suggestions.

If it were me, I think I would scrap the paper exercises and try to incorporate the same material as feedback after the speaking activity is finished. For example, if during the role play you hear incorrect use of prepositions, then afterwards explain the correct use on the board (informally, without the use of a handout). You will have to listen and make notes during the role play for actual mistakes.

After the activity, point out that these were actual mistakes you heard. This will make it more real to the students and help them to improve.

Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:38 am
by ncaraway
I don't think your approach is wrong. However, it probably depends on what the students are getting elsewhere. For example, I teach two conversation classes. The school also provides grammar, writing, and test-prep classes. Therefore, the students come to my classes solely to practice conversation. That doesn't mean I don't cover vocabulary, phrasal verbs, etc. It's just that it's usually coincidental (i.e., when I notice students making a mistake) or in response to a student question.