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adults that want to learn conversation

 
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gankoba



Joined: 08 Jun 2012
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:33 pm    Post subject: adults that want to learn conversation Reply with quote

What do you do with adult classes where they want to learn conversation? What are some productive activites to get them talking? What do you do if their English ability is very limited?
I have several classes with adults, and almost always they tell me they want to learn conversation and are not interested in using grammar books. I also prefer not to use books with adults so that's fine. I'm trying to come up with some activites that will help get them talking and also try and make them feel like they're actually learning.
I have them do a lot of question and answering with each other, like when did you...? Have you ever...? What's your favorite....? etc...
Does anyone have some good advice or observations from successful classes?
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longshikong



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:34 am    Post subject: Re: adults that want to learn conversation Reply with quote

gankoba wrote:
What do you do with adult classes where they want to learn conversation?


Beware!!! What you and I would consider (the skills necessary for unrehearsed) conversation may not be what your students have in mind. For those here in Asia conditioned to years of teacher/text-centric instruction, English is merely a subject. 'Conversation' for them means nothing more than memorizing common question formats and appropriate responses: Where are you come from? Do you like Chinese food?

I've been using Cambridge's Interchange as a basic resource for adult classes. The Intro book with over 1,000 words works well for false beginners who really want to learn the language, but for the less ambitious who obviously didn't/couldn't* apply themselves during their school years either, there's a much better series that offers them the familiar teacher/text centric handholding: Side by Side, the ALM-style series with its pattern repetition that's still on the market but hasn't been updated since 2001.

This is why I've argued for the importance of taking such things into account during Placement Level Tests and how assessment in ELT is woefully inadequate. See my posts on CELTA Method and
Did your training adequately cover assessment? threads.

Some instinctively know how to learn. You see them repeating the language under their breath, engaging their imagination. During dialog practice, they look at their partner's face and speak rather than to the printed page.

* EDIT: I still haven't figured out whether weaker students suffer from a learning disability, lack of intelligence, lack of confidence (low self-efficacy), or are just too conditioned from their public schooling years to question why their method of 'study' isn't working for them despite whatever advice I give to them (in L1). Perhaps it's a combination of these.


Last edited by longshikong on Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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gankoba



Joined: 08 Jun 2012
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never really liked side by side personally.
American English File has been my favorite for people who seriously want to study English.
http://elt.oup.com/student/americanenglishfile/?cc=cz&selLanguage=cs
Though, most of my students shy away from the books, either not having enough time to go through it or not enough discipline. I know that these students are looking for the "easy" way to learn English, and although there is no such thing, I have to try and appease them.
So far my strategy is getting them to talk as much as possible without going too deeply into correcting their grammar. I figure if they can get their point across using what words they already know, then that's a successful conversation. But getting them to talk has become a little of a problem.
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1305
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We talked about this in several places. Go to Search above and type in adult conversation. Here is one:
http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?t=9890&highlight=adult+conversation
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longshikong



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gankoba wrote:
I never really liked side by side personally.


I don't particularly like Side by Side either but for the type of beginner I mentioned who struggle with the most basic patterns, the book and videos provide plenty of contextualized substitution practice with minimal vocabulary. Interchange's videos, on the other hand, are less accessible to students when played at normal speed.

gankoba wrote:
American English File has been my favorite for people who seriously want to study English.


'Study' being the operative word. But don't they want to learn conversational English, not just study it. I can see why they consider English File a grammar book. Since it was the most mentioned coursebook on Your top five essential EFL books?, I posted the following question:

LongShiKong wrote:
I was curious about English File given how many mentioned it. Having looked at it, I still am. What in your experience makes it a great coursebook: captivating topics, audio/video suited to the level, etc. etc.?

The problem I have with such coursebooks is they seem designed more for self-study (or inexperienced teachers) than for an oral classroom. I guess it depends on what your course objectives are but there seems far more language input than well-designed guided output opportunities- the flaw, I admit with the majority of coursebooks.

----------------------
EDIT: I'm not saying English File is an inferior text. I'm sure those of you who included it here did so for the its language presentation. Am I right? However, the temptation for 'seasoned' students with such a text is to simply 'study' it and methodically fill in the blanks. Do those of you who use this text assign that for homework so as to focus on pair/groupwork? I'd be interested in hearing from some of you.


That was the last post and I'm still awaiting a reply. I can only presume those who use English File have large mixed-level classes where oral skill practice isn't feasible nor a priority. I'm genuinely interested in why you prefer the series having only glanced at it myself.
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