Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You don't like talking?

I have some classes in this optional English program where the students are very resistant to talking. The major problem of this program is that they basically get their credit for attendance and nothing else. There is a meaningless, token test at the end of the year. Anyway, the students all know this so a lot of them seem to just show up because it's an easy credit for essentially no work beyond showing up for class. To be fair, some students actually care about and want to learn English and they are a joy to teach.

My strategy for the ones who almost refuse to talk? Make it embarrassing for them not to. When we do pair conversation work, I'll set up the activity in a way that's very simple to understand. I'll write the question on the board and go over the 5 "W" questions for follow-up. My example from yesterday was, "What kind of movies do you like?" We'd been talking about movies the entire previous week so they should have had some familiarity with the topic. I'll do a teacher example, with the students asking me the main question and then some follow-up questions. Then I'll unleash them on each other, with a set time of say 2 or 3 minutes. Some students just won't talk. They look down at their books, out the window, sleep, anything but talk. So at the end I'll go around in a circle and ask for a quick summary from each students of what their partner said. The ones that didn't talk obviously have nothing to say. And feel very stupid because everyone else is able to do it. It only happens in one class and then they know I mean business. Try it out!

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