conversational approach

<b> Forum for discussing activities and games that work well in the classroom </b>

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conversational approach

Post by lemonjelly » Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:19 pm

I have been teaching English for only about 6 months now but am starting to get a clear idea of the kind of methodology I prefer and find to be the most productive. I would really like to work for a school that places a strong emphasis on conversation based learning but am unsure which, or indeed any, offer this kind of approach. Does anyone have any suggestions?


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Post by fluffyhamster » Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:09 pm

Most schools haven't much real idea of how to teach/improve a student's conversational/general spoken ability, and are suspicious of teachers who appear to be straying from "approved" textbooks and practices; it would be harder work than most "businessmen first" could stomach to develop a course that actually did what it claimed on the tin, besides which, the number of suckers for punishment (especially in the more masochistical/Confucian Asian countries) generally always outweighs the dissatisfied and/or leaving students (unless the teacher and/or method is absolutely abysmal). But there are a few schools that have bosses who at least try (or believe they are)...the problem then though is, will they alllow you to deviate one iota from doting their brainchild lavishly? What if you have potentially better ideas? Much as doubtless the majority of even these more progressive school bosses wouldn't like to hear it, to teach conversation well a teacher must actually be allowed to develop a personality, and from that their own individual approach (and who else knows the students better, or more importantly, "has" to "teach" them - get to know them, and have them get to know him/her etc). So perhaps the ideal situation would ultimately be to teach self-written lessons privately, or set up one's own school (but those who haven't quite that amount of drive or initiative might like I say get lucky and find a more progressive type of school).

Anyway, I've written quite a few posts regarding more natural types of discourse, spoken grammar etc. Some possible search terms would be 'discourse', 'conversation', 'analysis', 'Carte*', 'McCarth*', 'CANCODE', 'heads', 'tails', 'Thornbur*', 'Dogme' and 'Richar*', all in conjunction with me 'fluffyhamster' as author. (I'll maybe also think of what terms would produce results over on the International Forums too - I've not made quite so many "academic" posts there, but there are a few at least).

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Post by Sally Olsen » Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:48 pm

I would suggest that you just decide which country you want to teach in and then check out the schools with the Job Forum at Dave's. Teachers post warnings about certain schools and tell you which are the best.

I personally chose private schools because the owners treat you as family but I was extremely lucky and the owners and schools lived up to their promise and more. I was allowed to do as I wanted within the parameters of what the students would allow. I could usually win them over to my way of teaching if I gave them good reasons and research that they might learn that way and most did.

There were always one or two who did learn by rote methods with memorization and drills so I encouraged that type of teaching for those students. The others didn't mind a little of the drill and kill methods each day and the parents seemed to appreciate the homework type of teaching as well as a proof I was teaching their children. Gradually though I won them over to actually practicing their English at home in meaningful ways with games and projects which also pleased the parents eventually.

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Post by Heads Up English » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:27 pm

As someone who has developed a curriculum for a nationwide school in Japan, and a teacher training program to go with it, I can say that there are schools out there that value a communicative and creative approach to teaching. That said, the curriculum at my company took into consideration the needs and demands of the customer and market. A flexible yet set template must be used in every class because it's part of sales and the school package. There are good points and bad points, as well as good lessons and bad lessons. There are even points that I don't like, and I'm the curriculum developer!

Why do I bring this up? I think you have to be aware that at most schools you won't get complete control or freedom in the classroom. There will always be outside factors which influence what goes on in the schools and the classrooms, and which filter down as (more or less) politely-worded ultimatums.

Personally, my way around this is to teach private classes and university classes. I have total freedom to do what I want, as long as I produce results for my students. This is where I get the most satisfaction, along with producing materials for my websites. There I can try new ideas I've read about, tweak lessons, readjust the focus... whatever needs to be done to get my students from A to B. I would recommend the same to you.

It's always a balance, isn't it?

Chris Cotter
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Post by Karenne » Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:51 pm

I agree with Chris, pretty much if you don't want to be told what to do - you've got to become the boss (or you don't tell your bosses what you're doing)...

Referring to Fluffy Hamster's dogme - in orange - here are two links which might help explain what this approach to teaching is: ... dogma.html ... dogme.html

Hope that's useful,


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Post by chasingrabbitsvw » Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:56 am

I currently teach conversation at a public school in Korea. I enjoy it very much. My instructions were to teach what ever I want as long as the students are practicing speaking and are enjoying it. There are no textbooks or set materials. I come up with everything myself or with help of mostly online resources. Many public schools around here have the same approach. If you are interested I suggest contacting a recruiter. I used, they do and awesome job.

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Post by Jagyr » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:50 am

yes, it's a very similar experience for me in a Korean public school in Bucheon. I've been given basically free reign, I'm guessing (they haven't even structured it this much so far) that I'm supposed to keep them speaking English, and keeping it fun keeps the kids wanting to come back for more, and interested in speaking English.

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