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Practising and Assessing Discussions
Transcript of Practising and Assessing Discussions
Practicing and Assessing Discussions
small group of students discussing w/o teacher input
teacher marking each student individually
chance to assess S's abilities in realistic situations
goals also: promote critical analysis, encourage various perspectives on current issues and learner independence
Discussions in the EFL classroom
many kinds of discussions (brainstorming, exchanging opinions, problem-solving…)
focus: discussion as involving the exchange of opinions
easy for teacher and students
tailor to your objectives
familiar to students
give choice of possible 3-5
actual choice = random selection on test day
note cards (e.g. 75 words, important vocab)
3 Ss = 5 min. / 4 Ss = 8 min. (based on class time or level of proficiency)
groups unknown to students until test day
one group in testing site at a time
Ss practice topics with note cards
Practical Applications in Listening and Speaking Skills
two-month online course
8-10 hours weekly
weekly readings, discussions, Skype sessions, audio journals, self-study log, final project
Why / Why Not?
II. Teachers create tools that encourage use of the target language.
checklists of target language so learners can keep track of what they’ve used in their discussions
cards with target language phrases on them to be used in various ways to keep learners focused
BINGO cards so learners can mark off target language as they use it
IV. Clearly explain task & goal of task, then set learners free to do it in small groups.
V. Circulate & monitor groups during task.
Switch things up & do the same activity again!
Switch learners into different groups and use the same topic.
Switch topics and keep the same groups.
Small Group Discussions
small groups of 2-4 learners speaking
not scripted, but spontaneous speaking
teacher is facilitating but not joining groups
should have a language focus / task
How often do you currently include time for small-group discussion in your classes?
learners use L1, not English
shy learners, so no talking
teacher can’t hear everyone
How willingly do your current learners
discuss in English?
multi-way, authentic interaction - autonomy
language at learners’ level
more talk time for learners -→ more feedback
I. Teachers create a list of target language.
Use tools to create interesting tasks for learners that encourage discussion and autonomy.
Which do you prefer:
A. To divide learners into small groups before giving directions
B. To divide learners into small groups after giving directions
Encourage learners with non-verbal cues (smiles, nods, etc.), but do your best not to join the conversation.
Make one, quick lap around the room to make sure everyone understood the directions and is on track.
At the end of each round, give collective feedback about what you noticed that was positive, and what everyone can improve on in the next round.
Ask learners which cards were hardest/easiest to use. Why?
For added incentive, create an end-of-course assessment of all discussion skills practiced.
Use same format (small groups of 2-4).
Use same target language.
Give learners an ultimate goal to strive for during the course.
uninteresting, irrelevant topics
student input into topics
textbook - selection of units / phrasing of a discussion question
enough knowledge and resources
imperfect, 'broken' English
important part in everyday conversations
silences or broken English?
Start of a Discussion
strong start - clearly establish topic and direction
discussion topic -proposition that allows for 'for and against' opinions
time to prepare
anywhere, anytime - focus and concentrate
rehearse opinions - anticipate potential responses & rehearse counter responses - role-play a short discussion in their mind (note things they had difficulty saying)
guided activity /set of questions
group work: select a 'secretary' - brainstorm - write down for and against reasons - pass on paper to next group - add any ideas not currently written - elicit ideas - correct English
Facilitate Learning after a Discussion
go over what they said
make (mental) note of things they had difficulty saying
go over responses they didn't give but would have liked to
simpler, communicative activities
Nixon, C & Tomlinson, M.Primary Communication Box, Speaking and Listening Activities for Young Learners. Cambridge University Press.
Venema, J. (2006). Discussions in the EFL Classroom: Some Problems and How to Solve Them. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XII, No. 12, December 2006 http://iteslj.org/
Rice, J. & Rice, K. (2007). Authentic Assessment of Discussion Skills. ORTESOL Journal, Vol. 25. http://www.ortesol.org
Rice, J. (2013), Fostering Discussions in the English Classroom (Techniques for Teachers to Try). PALSS Webinar, American English Institute, University of Oregon.
Contact & Prezi
Dropbox link (articles, materials, lesson plans...)
An Uphill Struggle
There are many ways in which student discussions can break down.
Which ones have you encountered?
My students don’t stay in English.
The students don’t have the language knowledge to say what they want to say.
Students tend to repeat the same mistakes time and again.
The students’ lack of fluency prevents any kind of flow.
Students don’t prepare for discussions in class.
Students do not appear to have any opinions.
Students quickly relapse into monologues with no real interaction.
Some students always dominate while others rarely say a word.
Students don’t ask questions when they don’t understand what a partner is saying.
The students don’t appear interested in their partners or what they have to say.
Some students rarely speak up or always mumble. It is very difficult to hear them.
Students are reluctant to directly challenge or contradict what other students say.
What can teachers do to address these problems
Teacher-student online interaction should be limited to professional pages only.
Some people had not really spoken at all and then they came out in the discussion. They were these wonderful English speakers.
Some of the students who were usually quiet came out. I think that's so important that the other students see that that student can do it.
Good idea with the oral exam. It brings the course together and sets a good goal for students to work towards.
It was good because teacher can graded us fairly.
I had fun speaking with my friends even though it was a test.
It's difficult, but I enjoyed it.
It's fair and enjoyable.
It was very difficult, but if I practice more, I can do good speaking.
Goals & Objectives
Audience (A) – Who? Who are your learners?
Behavior (B) – What? What do you expect them to be able to do?
Condition (C) – How? Under what circumstances or context will the learning occur?
Degree (D) – How much and to what level?
Given the questions beforehand (C)
the students (A)
will have to speak about the given topic (B)
for 40 seconds and give answers to all questions (D)
1. What is your favorite free time activity?
2. Describe the activity?
3. Why is it important for you?
4. How long have you been doing it?