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  1. #1
    linguist_inside is offline Newbie
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    How to make them talk?

    I have recently hit a brick wall and I'm hoping some of you might help me: My students have enough skills and know enough words to take part in an easy conversation. But...some of them lack confidence! They say a few words in English and then they start talking in their native language. Is there a method to train their minds to think in English and get rid of the fear? Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    PeterValk is offline Senior Member
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    Re: How to make them talk?

    My way of dealing with this - but I'm in a 1-on-1 tutoring situation- is to pretend not to understand the "native" language.
    However, I do realise that this method may not be practical in a classroom where student may be even more selfconscious.
    How many students do you have?
    Would it be feasable to take them aside one by one at the end of the day ( one a day ) and have a little informal chat ( IN ENGLISH!), so they can make mistakes and not be laughed at by their classmates?

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: How to make them talk?

    Role plays and structured activities can sometimes help with this- assuming a role or performing a task can make it more natural to speak to others in English. Speaking English in a monolingual class can seem artificial,especially when not in an English-speaking setting .

  4. #4
    linguist_inside is offline Newbie
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    Re: How to make them talk?

    It's a group of 12-13 year olds, there's 5 of them. I have tried the "I do not understand you" method, but they get so worked up that I can't help giving in. I have printed out some dialogues with missing parts in them so they do a bit of a role play...But there is a lot of awkwardness in the air because, like one of you has noted, it is not natural for them to speak in English. That is why I want them to get rid of this barrier, just haven't figured out how to do that yet.

  5. #5
    Brad D is offline Newbie
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    Re: How to make them talk?

    Hi there!

    This is an intersting forum. I wonder what their first language is. Different cultures respond to different cues. I tutored a 12 year old Korean boy. He was very outgoing, and it was hard to keep him quiet! And really, all he wanted to do was talk about baseball.

    Well, I would say that you do more set grammar patterns first. There is a textbook called Interchange. Each chapter is based on a topic, and each has a grammar focus, pronunciation focus etc. Some students do not respond to "free" activities. If you start with more structure, say at the beginning of the week, and then let it be more free at the end of the week, they might loosen up.

    Also, what are they interested in? Did you do an activity at the beginning of the term that would let you know where they are coming from? Low levels are usually interpersonal, whereas high levels are usually extrapersonal. Basically that means that the lower the level that you are, the more you want to talk about what is physically, emotionally and mentally close to you. So, you might have them draw their bedroom. First, you can supply some of the vocabulary like "bed," "books," "door" etc. Then, you could ask them to work in pairs to come up with other words in a bedroom. One student speaking in front of the class may be scary. A student talking quietly to his/her partner may be less scary. Have them write them down. You might sit up front and give them space, or you might monitor them. Be gentle with your movements. Be very positive and reassuring. Say things like "that's a good one," or "I didn't think of that one," or "Oh I have that in my room too!" You might also draw some pictures on the board to give them some ideas. By the way, if you are a terrible drawer, GREAT! The worst thing you can do is draw a Monet. Laugh a little about how bad your pictures are. That will allow them to relax when their pictures aren't so beautiful. Remember, it isn't really art class. Remind them of that. (Some students are afraid to draw). Once they have worked together with one student, you know that they have a list. Give them a marker, and have the go to the board to write a word on the board. You see, they will THEN be infront of the class, and well, they can't make a mistake at that point because they are just copying the word from their list. (make sure that you know they have words on their list, and that they are spelled correctly). You have to give them confidence little by little. Start with things they know. Start with a lot of descriptions. Rooms in a house. Pets/animals. Dinner/breakfast. Favorite school classes. After school activities. Favorite place to go like a restaurant, park, city.

    Finally, you must remember that sometimes there is bullying in classrooms. Some students might be very outgoing in their language, and they might be a leader. However, when they come into an English class, a different student might be able to do the work more quickly and have higher fluency (rate of talking). The student that is able to command a presence outside of class will get jealous. (By the way, this is for any age group). They won't like it when another student seems to "take control." So, find out who that powerful student is in their own language. They may be the one who is embarrassed, and they may be sending signals to the others to keep quiet. Make sure that you NEVER embarrass that student. Always make sure that they have the correct answer before they address the class. Try not to correct them too much in front of the class. You might also have them give the first answer and the last answer. My guess is there is someone like this in your class, and at some time they were embarrassed.

    Good luck!

    Brad D
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 21-Dec-2013 at 16:26. Reason: typo (their/there)

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