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Oral classes for absolute beginners

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Joined: 25 Jun 2013
Posts: 1
Location: Pindamonhangaba - São Paulo - Brasil

PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:54 pm    Post subject: Oral classes for absolute beginners Reply with quote

I teach adults in a college in Brazil. The most difficult for me it's to make them to participate in an oral class. Do have a tip about how can I do to have an effective oral class for absolute beginners? What kind of material would you sugeest?

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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1294
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got the students in groups of 4 to 6 depending on the class size. Then they chose a project to do for the group. Of course, their discussions on who would find what information and how to present it to the group were to be in English. At first it was mostly in their own language but I appointed an English monitor for each group and they kept track of how much English was spoken. They got points for the times that they recorded. They didn't have to nag - just record obviously with a stop watch. Of course, I checked on each group as well and encouraged them to rephrase what they had just said in their own language in English. Because they were talking about a subject they enjoyed or felt passionate about, they usually participated. There are always going to be the quiet ones but I looked for people who didn't participate in the group and would meet with them privately and encourage them. They often didn't participate in their own language so it was a pattern. However, the quiet ones often did more on the project than the others. They did get talking time with me and some managed to to change their ways a bit. Be patient with the quiet ones and wait a little longer than you normally would for their answers to their questions and don't interupt or "help" them.

I also had them meet with me or an assistant individually to talk for 10 minutes about an assigned subject. I taped recorded the talk and then let them have the tape. They could practice other answers to questions and add that to the tape. We listened to the tape again after a month to see if they could spot their mistakes. It helped them to see that they were progressing.

I tried to make sure that there was no bullying when people tried to talk and made mistakes. It was hard at first because I didn't know enough of the language to understand the teasing but you can often tell from body language of the teaser or the teased. Asking the teaser to say what they had said in their own language in English often stops that kind of thing and makes a safe atmosphere. Of course, you can't bully the bullies and have to make the experience light and for learning. If someone continues, you can speak to them privately.

The biggest influence was for me to speak in their language and make mistakes but laugh them off and really try to correct them. I made some doozies, like the time I thought I asked for beef but really said that I wanted human meat or the time I pointed to my dog and thought I said, "This is my dog" but really said, "This is my husband." I bet those stories are still being told in the staff room.
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Joined: 02 Sep 2013
Posts: 22
Location: Asia, Middle East, Europe, USA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


What size is the class? Are they all absolute beginners? I'd put them into groups and use a lot of guessing games, vocab sorting games and situational games to start. Watching and listening to simple dialogues and then role playing. Keep everything simple, fun and engaging and you should get a positive response.

Katrina (
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