Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Less Might Be More: Improptu vs. Planned Conversation

Recorded student conversations today. They had been working on conversations for several weeks, and they have finally put themselves in front of a video camera and spoken to each other.

The objectives were to :
1.) build student confidence in their ability to speak English;
2.) activate vocabulary and grammar ability so that students can speak about themselves, their interests and those of one other;
3.) encourage collaborative language learning.

The suggested theme was, "Tell me about yourself." Students were asked to choose a partner. The teachers gave them a suggested pattern for the conversation: (Greeting, Small talk, Topics, Farewell), gambits for initiating a conversation (for example offering your name and then a statement about the state of your current condition, and leave taking strategies.

After the pair was finished with their conversation, they had an interview with the teacher, where they were asked to share information about their experience with the recording, ideas about the class in general, and then to talk about their English Log 2.0's.

The exit inverviews were all very similar, with most students saying that they were nervous. A few said that they enjoyed it.

My conclusion after this experience, though, is that rather than prepare for this kind of event for some weeks, the objectives stated above may be better achieved by providing less time for perparation and more time in conversation.

In the next cycle, I will provide less time for preparation, and focus their attention more on communicating.

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