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  1. #1
    stevewb is offline Newbie
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    Conversation Workshops

    Hello,

    This is my first post! My name is Steve and I'm from the USA. I've been teaching English for about two years now. First in Barcelona, Spain and now in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    In fact, English teaching is my means of support. I'm currently studying here in Argentina to become a doctor. I teach about 25 hours a week and earn enough pesos to survive. If anyone has questions about Argentina, feel free to ask.

    I am currently teaching three conversation workshops. One is a class of adolescents between 15 and 17 (upper intermediate and advanced) years of age, and the other two classes are comprised of students between 18 and 20 (upper intermediate and advanced). I'm wondering if anyone has any tips on working in this kind of context. My boss's idea is that the classes work as a sort of practice or support to the more structured classes that the students are taking at the institute. So it's more casual, it's a context in which they can practice speaking without a lot of pressure.

    The thing is, after a few months we've run out of things to talk about. I've tried providing reading material, but it's difficult to find something that's interesting to everyone. The classes are hour and a half classes, and I've found myself in the uncomfortable position of having nothing to do!

    Does anyone have suggestions about games to play or classroom activities that are interesting to everyone?

    Thanks a lot for your help!

    Steve

  2. #2
    paul.moss is offline Junior Member
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      • English Teacher
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      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Iran
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    Re: Conversation Workshops

    Well, it's a bit tough for someone outside that context to come up with a surefire method, but here are some tips that might work for you:
    Spend a bit more time learning about the ups and downs of life over there.They make good topics for discussion.
    People in this age group tend to open up to teachers and tell them things they would never share with parents. Pin them down and exploit them.
    If you can afford the risk, wind them up a bit. Never agree with them.The secret is you must be ready to think ,on the spot,of a counterargument for any argument they give .
    Learn a bit of Spanish or whatever language they speak over there.
    Sometime, ask the students to suggest a topic. They'll love it.
    Good Luck!

  3. #3
    stevewb is offline Newbie
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    Re: Conversation Workshops

    Thanks!

    I appreciate the advice. In fact I've done all that and now that we know each other so well and we've talked about life in Argentina, they're bored with that. I speak Spanish fluently and they know it, so sometimes they just start speaking Spanish haha. Kind of annoying. But yes, I totally agree. Never agreeing is really fun actually. Playing the devil's advocate is the greatest conversation starter/maintainer.

    What I would really like to discover are some good games to play that would enhance their vocab as well as entertain. I'll keep looking! If you think of anything let me know.

    Thanks again,

    Steve

  4. #4
    I'm With Stupid's Avatar
    I'm With Stupid is offline Senior Member
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      • English Teacher
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      • English
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    Re: Conversation Workshops

    I think conflict is always good. Sometimes students are too polite though, and don't want to disagree. And also information gap activities. So rather than a basic policeman/witness role play, have a policeman with 3 witnesses who all saw different things, and he has to ask the right questions to find out what actually happened. You can do the same thing in all sorts of contexts, so doctors having to figure out the illness from the symptoms, for example.

    But back to the conflict, use a structured activity to get them to talk about their preferences, and maybe disagree with each other. So for example, hand them five music reviews to read through (good reading practice), and then get them to discuss which album they'd like to buy and why. Maybe play a sample of each album. Having a bit of pop and a bit of rock in there will guarantee an argument. Expand it by inventing a few characters and writing a bit of a profile, and get them to discuss which album they would buy as a present for each character.

    And finally, task-based learning is always going to be a good method in a school where you're not bringing much language into the classroom, and it's more a case of practising speaking skills. It's slightly more difficult in classes where everyone has the same native language, because the habit is to get really into the task, and forget they're supposed to be speaking English.

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