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#qskills – When should L1 be used in class?

Today’s question for the Q: Skills for Success authors: When should L1 be used in class?

Nigel Caplan responds.

We are no longer taking questions. Thank you to everyone who contacted us!

Look out for more responses by the Q authors in the coming weeks, or check out the answers that we’ve posted already in our Questions for Q authors playlist.


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#qskills – How do I motivate my students to speak English instead of their native language in class?

Today’s question for the Q: Skills for Success authors: My students are always using their native language in the classroom. How can I motivate them to speak English instead?

Joe McVeigh responds.

We are no longer taking questions. Thank you to everyone who contacted us!

Look out for more responses by the Q authors in the coming weeks, or check out the answers that we’ve posted already in our Questions for Q authors playlist.

 


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#qskills – What do I do when I ask the class a question and no-one is speaking?

Today’s question for the Q: Skills for Success authors: How do I deal with a situation when I address a discussion question to the entire class, and no one is speaking?

Tamara Jones responds.

We are no longer taking questions. Thank you to everyone who contacted us!

Look out for more responses by the Q authors in the coming weeks, or check out the answers that we’ve posted already in our Questions for Q authors playlist.


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8 easy techniques to help learners practice clarifying their explanations

Mixed race businesswoman speaking at podiumFollowing on from her tips for teaching speaking for academic purposes at graduate level posts, Li-Shih Huang, Associate Professor at the University of Victoria, Canada, now gives some practical suggestions and examples to apply those techniques outside of the EAP sphere.

You have probably heard your students say “I’m not sure how to explain it . . .” while speaking, as they search for ways to get their ideas across. Think of the last time your students (or maybe you) were searching for ways to clarify explanations so that the idea you were trying to convey would not only make sense to your listener, but would also stick!

In one of my previous articles, 7 Tips for Teaching Speaking for Academic Purposes at the Graduate Level: Part 2, I mentioned the importance of linking tasks that learners need to perform outside of class to in-class activities. In that post, I included an exercise that requires students to clarify a key concept using various communication strategies.

In this article, I’d like to follow that up with some brief explanations and simple examples, because the eight techniques presented here are not limited to the teaching of speaking for academic purposes. Being able to present explanations clearly, which is a key attribute of a speaker’s effectiveness in communication, is a skill that all speakers strive to develop, regardless of whether they are language learners or aspiring or practicing teaching professionals.

Researchers have established the effectiveness of various instructional strategies across disciplines, such as: using concrete examples to illustrate abstract concepts, using analogies from outside the classroom, and using personal examples (e.g., Civikly, 1992; Tobin & Fraser, 1990; van Rooyen, 1994). The following eight communication techniques are presented with the goal of helping your learners develop the ability to achieve their communication goals. Then some simple, fun application tasks that you can try are presented at the end of the article.

Warm-up questions:

Identifying Challenges and Brainstorming Techniques/Strategies

1. How do you feel about your ability to clarify your ideas or explanations when listeners have difficulty understanding you?

2. Share with your speaking partner(s) an instance in which you encountered difficulty in clarifying your meaning. What are some personal difficulties that you faced (or anticipate facing if you can’t think of an incident in the recent past) in clarifying explanations?

Eight suggested techniques:

1. Use a practical example: Provide a practical example that your listeners can relate to.

e.g. To understand what the phrase “leisure activities” means, think of activities that you enjoy during time free from school or work.

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Activities to get students speaking

Diana Corcos, a teacher and teacher trainer, gives us a few tips on how to get students speaking in class.

Recently, I was in the staff room looking at the timetables for the next term. I was worried because I’d been given one of the larger classes…about 30 students. I am not keen on big classes so I decided to spend some time thinking about how I could get them all involved in some speaking activities.

I know from experience that it’s really important for pronunciation and memory, as well as providing a change of activity to keep students interested; but it’s a challenge!

So I thought I’d share with you some of the ideas I’ve used successfully in the past.

■ Get your classroom layout right

Have students’ desks and chairs arranged so they can see each other and you can move around easily. The students need to know that you’re listening and commenting on their progress as well as keeping an eye on them!

■ Keep control – without raising your voice

We all worry about losing control of speaking activities in large classes but they can work if you don’t have to shout. Try this way to get your students to listen

Tell your class that when your hand is held up you expect everyone to be quiet and listen. At first, only a few students will see your hand go up, but they’ll tell others and in a few seconds everyone will be quiet and you can speak. It’s really just the same as them putting up their hand to speak to you, so they’ll soon get used to it.

■ Grab their attention right from the start

Behaviour problems, especially with large groups, can happen when students drift into the lesson and it takes a while before everyone’s ready to start.  So have something they can get on with immediately.  Always have a task ready on the board when they come in – but keep it short. I use a kitchen timer which rings after a set time. My students always work in pairs.

Activities might be as simple as open-ended questions e.g.

  • Why do people live in cities?
  • Is school uniform a good or a bad thing?
  • Does money bring happiness?

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