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  1. #1
    Jaguar is offline Junior Member
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    Default Teaching advanced students

    Hello Everyone,

    I have an advanced group that consists of ten adult students. Normally only four or five turn up, but yesterday they all turned up. I had a good conversation class prepared, which is what they prefer. After half an hour I was sweating because I wasn't getting any feedback. How can I get them to participate?

    Jag

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Teaching advanced students

    One thing you can try is to have them do some role-playing conversation between themselves. Type up a conversation script that focuses/includes the vocabulary and/or grammar you are targeting in your lesson. Then hand that out to all of them and have them practice with each other. Then you circulate around the room and monitor/encourage/correct their conversation.

    Better yet: Make 3 or 4 different conversation scripts. Hand them out, have them practice them out loud, and then SWITCH scripts and practice the next one.

    Then, you can see if any of the groups would be willing to practice their script OUT LOUD in front of the whole class.

    Just some ideas. I used to teach high school ESL.

    Best wishes.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Teaching advanced students

    There are a lot of options, but I'd like to know how much you participated in the conversation. If you took an active role, then you can only talk about the question once. If some people aren't participating, or participate only a little, then you have to throw away any discussion on that question before things begin to really move along.

    Here are a few ideas I've tried, and which have worked very well. The ideas don't require my direct participation, but allow me to monitor, offer comments here and there, and answer any questions if needed.

    1. Pair discussions: Students work in pairs to discuss a question or two (which you have written on the board). Students must speak for a predetermined length of time. At the end of this, students switch partners and answer the questions again. This improves fluency, because they are now better able to link ideas and sentences together. (They've practiced the conversation once.) They also get to use some new ideas from the previous conversation. The students also improve accuracy, again because they have practiced the conversation. Yet the activity remains interesting the second time around because students are talking and sharing ideas with a new person.

    2. Mini-debates: Students pair up and debate a question, series of questions, or a topic. However, before they pair up, place students in small groups and assign each group a position (for or against). In groups, they discuss the information, brainstorm possible answers, as well as possible rebuttals. After ten minutes, place the students in pairs to debate the topic. You can repeat this several times, and if the questions are closely related, then previous information and ideas will get reused. This is great for fluency.

    3. Steal the conversation: This works well with my Japanese classes, who are more reluctant to speak over one another. I write a simple question on the board, and allow roughly five minutes to think of ideas on the topic. In groups no larger than five, they then get together and have a discussion. One student is the monitor/score keeper, though. If a student speaks for thirty seconds, he gets 1 point. If he speaks for another thirty seconds, he gets 1 more point. But if a student steals the conversation, then that other student gets awards 2 points. Students can steal the conversation during natural pauses, by talking over the person, etc.

    4. Role plays: After discussing a topic, you can create a role play. This allows students to use language they might not normally use in their daily lives. For example, a business executive might speak differently when giving a presentation than a family around the dinner table.

    I hope these ideas help.

    Have a great lesson.

    Chris Cotter
    Just print and teach materials at Heads Up English.
    Now you can get ideas & expand your teaching ability with Weekly Tips delivered to you!

  4. #4
    iainmac is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Teaching advanced students

    Hello,

    One thing crosses my mind. In the original post you say that 'conversation' is what the class prefer: that doesn't really seem to fit with the fact that you couldn't squeeze more than half-an-hour's worth of talk from them. Getting a group of ten people to 'converse' is not easy, mainly because it is such an unnatural situation (unless they all are friends or bound by a genuine common interest (learning english aside)). Just waiting for things to move by themselves is rather optimistic. If you were sweating, I wonder what they were doing.
    If students decide they want 'conversation' they at least should be asked to provide and agree on an agenda of topics. Firstly you know whether they have any ideas or not, secondly you can ascertain that there is a degree of consensus, and thirdly students can give the topic some thought before the lesson.
    It's unlikely that a single conversation can stretch to 90 minutes so you need other activities. Variety is the spice of a good lesson and to be quite honest 'role-play' can be just more of flogging a dead horse when the conversation runs dry. Students like to converse, but on the whole they also appreciate more focussed learning activities. Find out what kind of activities they are interested in and prepare a file.
    Going with the flow can be valuable but it seems to me that it can't become standard teaching practice.

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    Jaguar is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Teaching advanced students

    Sorry!

    I totally forgot about this post

    Well, that group was eventually split in two, the timetable was changed and some students were lost along the way. That suited me because a few of the students were turning up when they felt like it. Definitely not on. I ended up with a group of four that want to do CAE and a colleague got a group of three.

    Apart from other activities I have my group working from a CAE book. It is a good group, they are enthusiastic and punctual, which means they all arrive ten minutes late.

    Thanks for your replies. I found them very interesting and useful

    Jag

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