Options for Training Sessions
by Judy Guttridge
Reading Circles is another activity that I use in the
classroom as highly satisfactory way of giving input to trainees.
In the classroom one of the main aims of the activity
is to give students a chance to practise taking longer turns
In an ideal world the number of students in the class
should be a multiple of four, and there should be a different
piece of text for each group of four! (Should this not be
the case, teachers or trainers will adapt to groups of five
or three as s/he sees fit, ensuring that weaker students are
not left alone!)
The type of text I choose for the classroom might be
a short anecdote or a piece of interesting information. (I
have found suitable material from old textbooks, which I cut
up and stick on card.) Each group has a different text to
read, understand and remember (not memorise) as all participants
will be called upon to relay their information. One of the
reasons for having students in groups is so that they can
give each other technical and moral support, at the beginning
in the understanding of the texts, and during the activity
in the relaying.
The different groups of four form a large circle, with
two people in each group facing in a clockwise direction (As)
and two in an anti-clockwise direction (Bs). For the activity
the Bs will stay put and the As will move on to the next group,
but only when the teacher/trainer gives the cue, otherwise
chaos would ensue.
When the As meet with a new pair of Bs the two pairs
When all groups have finished this stage, at the cue the As
move on to the next pair of Bs. And so the activity continues.
Each pair is getting practice at a long turn of speech,
probably refining delivery as the activity progresses. In
fact, the time needed for 'telling' tends to reduce, but not
because participants have become bored. Simply because they
have become more fluent.
At the same time they should have been participating
as active listeners. If they are aware that the information
they are receiving will be necessary for a further activity
then listening should become even more purposeful.
the trainees I chose a text by Jack Richards, Communicative
needs in foreign language learning (1990) which gives
a clear exposition of different aspects of communication and
is fairly neatly organised for division into shorter pieces
of text. In fact, I reduced the length of the text further
so that the activity could be completed within a satisfactory
time limit. Trainees found the reflections on language highly
stimulating, and became very involved. Moving around was not
complicated with the group of trainees, but probably needs
careful thought and preparation for use with a class of younger
the trainees were experiencing a process and at the same time
elaborating technical information, and needless to say the
activity is evaluated by the whole trainee group in the same
way as the previous exercises. However, at this stage the
trainees may well be ready to reflect in smaller groups with
less trainer supervision.
have a strong belief in the need for mental and physical involvement,
and for activities that are going to stimulate the use of
memory, be it consciously or otherwise. It would appear to
be a common sense approach to trainee sessions to combine
practice and theory in a highly motivating way, providing
trainees with material for reflection and for the development
of personal theories and practices.
J.C. 'Communicative needs in foreign language learning',
a plenary address given at the Japan Association of Teachers'
Convention, Tokyo, November 21, 1981 in Rossner R. and Bolitho,
R. (eds.) 1990. Currents of Change in English Language Teaching,
Oxford, Oxford University Press
H.G. 1978. Teaching Language as Communication, Oxford,
Oxford University Press
T. 1991. Models and Metaphors in Language Teacher Training,
Loop input and other strategies, Cambridge, Cambridge
article was first published in the IATEFL Teacher Trainers'
& Educators' SIG Newsletter December 2001
Judy Guttridge works at the University of Florence,
Italy, but has many years of experience of teaching, particularly
to adults, and training Italian teachers of many different
school levels. She has also been involved in projects with
teachers for the teaching of Italian both in L1 and L2 situations.
Judy can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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