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Keeping them on task during speaking and hearing everyone... how?!

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by anon874, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. I've read a lot about the speaking skills of pupils not being good enough (I think Ofsted moaned about it in a publication). Indeed, I teach some year 9s and year 11s who can't get really basic sounds of French correct.
    On the other hand, how find speaking tasks hard to manage. A few keen ones will have, for example, done the role 4 times before some have muttered a word in the target language.
    When I sneak up on certain groups, they'll be asking eachother the questions in English or chatting about Glee. While I'm running around trying to "police" the activity I don't actually get much chance to hear everyone properly. And of course that pair that have already done it 4 times are bored now or completed the questions for the rest of the lesson.
    If I get people to talk in pairs/groups to the class they obviously would get bored after a few groups...
    How do you make speaking tasks work for you to help them to improve pronunciation and confidence?
  2. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    If the kids are speaking English during pair work there is not much point doing it, I would say. Spoken confidence develops through lots of meaningful listening, question answer work, drilling, repetition, reading aloud etc. If the pupils are getting on with pair work, then I would persist with whole class tasks.

  3. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Should read "not getting on".
  4. mpc


    I've picked up a couple of speaking task tricks over recent months
    Otra vez/Autre fois/clouds - students are given a list of alternative sentence endings and their partner has to guess which one ithey have chosen.
    I went to Spain/Mexico/France.
    I went in April/June/May
    etc etc - if a student doesn't get it right they have to go back to the beginning - great fo repetition.
    Mystery - series of mini cards - find the person who....? I've put some on resources.
    Cheat - students read off cards but if a card has cheat on it, they have to make something up.
  5. mpc


    Should have said - students will deviate but perhaps using a timer might help too?
    In our dept, we're trying to raise the profile of speaking by awarding marks for tasks. Students are only inclined to value written work so we figure that raising the profile of speaking stuff may help...
  6. mpc


    Boardgames can work well with some groups too although not all...
  7. Thanks for all the tips so far!!! It is really appreciated and I'm sure it will make interesting reading for many other people!
  8. I got mine (top set admittedly) to practise talking about a topic by firstly having 1 min each to talk to their respective partners with the notes on the board or in their books. Then 1 min each to do it without exercise books or notes.Then and this was the best bit - they had to talk simultaneously AT one another and see who could outtalk the other. Went down really well. Mind you this particular class could talk for England so they were very up for any form of verbal communication no matter what the language was!
  9. tortuman

    tortuman New commenter

    When I teach groups of adults I never do pair work without it then being presented to the class. Once I got a bad report on an observation because I was "spending" too much time speaking to each student in the target language, rather than having them doing pair work. The observer said that I am not supposed to listen to all the students anyway and I was too controlling. Personally, I think this is b***sh**, but this is what many people do in colleges. With smaller groups, as it is the case with adult teaching, they prepare the dialogue in pairs and then present it to the class. And there s always roll play where I ask questions and each student answers in turn. Of course, this is going to take time, but I feel this is the only way of getting real "practice", as the OP said, when you do pair group people end up talking in English if you are not behind them. While doing the presentation the students who aren't talking will still get the benefit of listening.
    With larger groups, I trained with a lady who used to do a similar thing. She have 5-10 minutes preparation, she let the students move about the classroom, then she called them back to their desks and asked for volunteers to come up to the front and present their dialogues. Then all the students gave them points for accent, presentation, originality, etc. Then these points went on her reward system. I can´t remember what it was, but I think it worked.
    My teacher in school used to have a system, she used to call people to the board from the register, she marked the ones that had already been out, and then she started again.
  10. maa09

    maa09 New commenter

    I found a massive difference in how on task the pupils were in speaking once I put them in pairs or groups rather than letting them choose.
  11. Many more thanks!
  12. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    get them to record themselves, we have one of those little dictaphone things
  13. runaway

    runaway New commenter

    Recording works best for me - but dont muck about with expensive recording equipment - let them use their phones - or if the SLT are too retentive to consider such a radical move, try TTS speach bubbles/talking postcards etc then get the kids to put their names on them and hand them in and make a point of commenting / feedback / marking for the next lesson - you only need to do it a couple of times and then they'll be convinced you always listen to them...
  14. Hmmm... just how far are the OFSTEAD expecting teaching of correct pronunciation to go? And they have a point, as if you get stress rhythm & intonation wrong in French, then, I found the French just breaking into English[​IMG]. If the real pronounciation is taught in the bud and the majority of yr7s will take it in(especially when contrasted to that of English) then those who get the genuine opportunity to speak French, either when in France or to visitors will start winning.
  15. I think that recording is a very good idea. All the teacher has to do is listen to a random sample and give feed back. That's great practice for the GCSE and could lead also to peer assessment.
    More disruptive than its worth I would have thought.
  16. One way I have found useful (seems Primary level) but works with all levels is to form one circle and number1-2. Tehn move all the 2's into the middle of the circle and match up witha partner on the outside circle. Then so they do not begin with a friend (move them out of comfort zone) ask the inner circle to move a specific number of spaces (your choice) to their right. Begin withthe inner circle asking their partner(outer circle) a question and outer circle answers. Get the inner circle to move 2 spaces to right again and ask next question and so on. You can use this for Q&A describing, telling stories simple greetings etc. Activity runs best for 5-8 minutes. If you walk around the circle while activity is on generally gossiping is kept to a minimum.
    Another way to increase their confidence and skill is to write to each other using an etherpad. A year 7 introduced this concept to me earlier this year and the kids love it. You set up the pad and send out the invites. students know that you are watching so generally they do the right thing and communicate in the language. You can also correct bad speling and grammar this way and the whole group learns (sometimes you have students reticent to ask for help)
    Another tool that might assist you can be found at (www.education.vic.gov.au/languagesonline/ )
    A great interactive website for revising language and introducing new language. through listening writing and playing games.
    Hope this is of some use.
  17. Questionnaires are your answer, as a mix and mingle activity.

    How to set it up?

    1. Brainstorm questions on subject onto the board
    2. Drill questions with the group
    3. Brainstorm possible answers
    write / draw answers on the board
    4. Add some of your own ideas
    5. Get students to copy down the questions/answers

    1. Demonstrate asking and answering with a good student
    2. pair them off in two's
    3. let them practice on their own a few minutes

    1. Get a pair up at the front to demonstrate "their" version to the group
    2. Get next pair up
    3. Get next pair up
    4. Promise those who didn't have a chance to be listened to at the beginning of next lesson - and DO it!

    ADDED BONUS: FILM them when they demo in front of class.

    PS - they are allowed to use board/book as their reference.
    Textbook practice exercises are usually pitiable!
  18. OOps - forgot the mix and mingle part.
    Once they have practiced in pairs and demonstrated,
    get them to find a new partner and do it again
    when finished, they seek a new partner .... and so on
  19. I see you already have lots of fabulous responses but thought I may as well add my suggestion! When doing speaking in pairs in the form of questions and answers or a pre-prepared 'speech', I create a grid for the listening student. They have to tick each time they hear an example of pre-determined criteria eg/ opinions, negatives, connectives etc. I often include a column for authentic accent, fluency etc. It helps the speaker know what they should be aiming for and the listener focuses more on listening. There is then of course the opportunity for reflection and peer feedback afterwards.

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