How to encourage students keep talking when they are discussing a topic?

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Rezafo

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When you are running a free discussion class for ESL English Learners, and although the topic is pretty controversial, still some students do not talk or express their idea within more than one or two sentences. What are the solutions in this situation? What are the tactics to keep them going?

For example, the topic is about marriage (the best age to get married, customs and everything related to marriage), then all the things some of the students would say are:

Tom: Well, I think the best age is between 25-30. And I think the boy and the girl should get engaged for at least few months.

When you ask the student; why do you think this is the best age? They simply answer: because they are fully grown up and probably finished their education.

And the more questions you ask, the shorter answers the students give. And the flow of discussion do not go ahead as you want to be, and it turns mostly into a question-and-answer talk show.

For some students, thanks God you don't need to burn lots of energy and they seem to be a real chatterbox and they will talk about so many things and even to the extent of going astray which you need to stop them in a way that they don't mind it, and bit by bit remind them to get back on track and continue their talking about the discussed subject.

So, I need some help and good references to show me how to increase the motivation of such students who do not talk a lot.

Thank you.
 

TomUK

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Not a teacher!

Tom: Well, I think the best age is between 25-30. And I think the boy and the girl should get engaged for at least few months.

First I would like to make it quite clear that I did not say this!

One reason for the lack of participation could be that their vocabulary is too limited to express themselves in more detail. The topic could be not very interesting for the students or they are just shy when they have to talk in front of a group.

Maybe you could start with letting them talk about an area of personal interest like a hobby or what they did on the weekend or during their holidays. You could divide the class into groups and let every student talk for a minute. If they can't speak for a whole minute the other group gets a point. If they make mistakes while talking don't interrupt them. Correct these after the student talking session. Don't ask questions. Let the students question each other.

TomUK
 

emsr2d2

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I've always liked the use of timed talking. If a student knows that they need to talk for one minute, preferably without hesitating or repeating the same things, they are forced to come up with new information and new vocabulary. This works for students who talk too little and those who talk too much. Those who talk too little will have to work harder to come up with information and vocabulary and those who usually talk too much must learn to stick to the topic and fit all the requisite information into the time allowed.
 

Odessa Dawn

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We should remind ourselves that starting a question with how to is incorrect as one of our honorable teachers said. Please see post#4.
 

emsr2d2

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We should remind ourselves that starting a question with how to is incorrect as one of our honorable teachers said. Please see post#4.

You are quite right. The OP's title should have read "How can I encourage students to ​keep talking when they are discussing a topic?"
 

Esredux

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Not all people are equally talkative (thankfully!) and those who prefer the sound of their own voices might have difficulties in listening comprehension. In everyday life we tend to converse rather than deliver speeches, why should it be otherwise in class? That is not to say that discussing certain topics over and over again could leave virtually nothing to talk about! Of all skills, speaking/communication is most fragile, methinks.
 

Rezafo

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We should remind ourselves that starting a question with how to is incorrect as one of our honorable teachers said. Please see post#4.


Is it? I never thought of that. Thanks for reminding me. And can anyone substantiate the reason grammatically? I answer it myself, and you tell me if I'm right or not. I think because " how to + the rest of the sentence" can be considered as noun clause and we need a helping verb to make the whole sentence into a question one.

By the way, if you go to "ehow" or "wikihow" you can see that there are lots of topics staring with " how to .." like " how to join a conversation" , " how to start ..." and so many other sentences.
 
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Rover_KE

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By the way, if you go to "ehow" or "wikihow" you can see that there are lots of topics staring with " how to .." like " how to join a conversation" , " how to start ..." and so many other sentences.

Those are not questions – they are titles of sets of instructions.

Rover
 

Rezafo

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Those are not questions – they are titles of sets of instructions.

Rover


Yes, you are right.

And what about explaining why questions starting with " how to " is grammatically wrong. Was my above comment correct that it is a noun clause or something like that?
 

5jj

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There is no finite verb in 'How to ...' questions.
 
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