Wednesday ,July 20th 2011 on 6pm gmt +7 time.
As always #ELTChat provides engaging discussion and great theme to discuss to and this time is about Teaching Conversation & Situational English.
Barb (@barbsaka), Berni (@rliberni) and Chuck (@chucksandy) moderated the chat on how to get this thing done in class nicely. I have been teaching this topic in class many times but still finds new perspective and problems each time. So this was something I was happy to be involved in
So,let see if I can summarize all :
1 . What is Conversational and Situational English ?
Conversational English is interaction that happens among people while Situational English is more about transaction.We have conversational English in order to be social while we use Situational English when we have purposed, to get something done.
Most believe that Conversational English has less clear aims, it can generates from one topic to another and can be simply just about sharing things. Though all agree that every interaction has meaning on it and there is nothing more important . It’s just that Conversational English has the aim of being social, building a relationship while Situational English is more about surviving and has an aim in each of the fragment.
2 . Do we teach or facilitate them?
Well, according to many of #ELTChatters both are necessary. What is important though to make them comfortable with the language before they can begin sharing their thought. Some skills need to be taught but we should also give them enough space for them to breath and be confidence enough to share their thoughts. Teahers need to know the culture of the class, the nature of the students and the ideal way to aprroach them. And that would finnaly open the door to get them to open their mouth.
3 . How do we teach them in class?
For Conversational ; Make sure they are familar with the topic so it’s easier for them to build the social skills. We should also provide them with some skills which are :
- Active listening
But if we teach beginner’s class we might help them out to be able to engage in the practice by providing a conversation sheet with blanks on it for them to fill before trying to jump in a conversation.Another fun idea is to take basic conversation, and practice is. The only rule is to not looking at the paper ,maintain eye contact then add some improvitation.
For Situational English ; providing the helpful vocabulary and phrases do help. As transaction for the core of Situational English is usually easy to predict. Focus on the language and strategies and then practice it. You could also use the chat box for them until they feel ready to speak up. Because Situational English can be considered as function lesson. You could also include real stituation practice for this particular lesson, simple role play or dramatic play will do too. It can be in form of ; plan, do ,reflect on certain situation.
Such model dialogue is still used in many parts of Asia. In this case we can give them space to expand more beyond the material given.
4 . What are the difficulties?
- Vocabulary mastering.
- Encouraging students to take part in interacting.
- Lack of skills in active and cooperative listening.
- Maitaining the stimoluous environment for students to partake in long practice.
But for all of those, many agree that teachers play a big role in making sure both the topic and the flow of the class can grow nicely. If you make the most of student / local knowledge then the ‘monolingual’ class conversations will be okay.
5 . Things to remember
- A good conversation shouldn’t be aimless, but has social aims, and that is why listening part so important.
- The Art of conversation is not always natural even to native speakers.
- The key, whether situational or interpersonal is communication – as natural and meaningful as poss.
- Whether it is for interaction or transaction , it needs to be planned and the aims of the lesson and the language both should be explicited.
Some Memorable tweets :
@mcneilmahon :#eltchat completely agree – needs analysis is best place to start conversation course as well as all others.
@clikman : I liked what I read the other day here (dn’t remember who by) re: getting s’s to interact “Don’t tell me! Tell him!” #ELTchat
@theteacherjames :Fair point which is why it’s essential to do needs analysis & understand what the sts are there for. #eltchat :
@hartle : The key, I think, whether situational or interpersonal is communication – as natural and meaningful as poss. #eltchat
@theteacherjames: @chucksandy Needs to be a bit more aimless to be a conversation, right? 😉
@pysproblem81: @cioccas Multilingual classes make conversations lessons much easier and more useful/genuine too #eltchat
@pysproblem81: interesting article in Language Issues pointed out dialogs only allow for exchanges with no problems. #ELTchat
@JoeMcVeigh :Must organize syllabus somehow.! Grammar, situations, interests. Studs like models but anything can be overdone.#ELTchat
@Barbsaka :True about listening being important skill. As important is how to show that you’re listening 🙂 #eltchat
@mcneilmahon : @barbsaka #eltchat but make sure the other SS have a reason to listen to their my, me, I – listening a very big skill in conversation too
It was such a inspiring chat indeed and let me close it by quoting Gareth Knight’s lecturer (@gknightbkk) : “We don’t have Conversation , the Conveersation has us”.
Thanks so much for everyone participating and for our great moderators.
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