Fill it with English
Here's a very nice idea from Sarn
Rich. On summer courses, or any course you're teaching,
it's sometimes difficult to get your students to talk to
each other in English outside of the classroom. This is
especially true when the students are in their home country
or there is a predominance of one nationality in the class.
They naturally use their mother tongue for talking to fellow
While he was teaching in the
UK Sarn got his students to write down a list of conversational
fillers & expressions that they use in their own language.
Then he got them to translate them into English. Examples
of such language: well..., errr..., mmm, you see, you know,
I didn't catch that, do you see what I mean?, I'm not sure
about that, for example, really?, etc.
The students then had to use
these English fillers when talking in their own language
to someone of their own nationality. It was put to them
as a game - to see who could do it - & it did catch
on. The students realised that it was a step in the right
direction & as it was posed as a game, the self-consciousness
If they can speak to each
other in English then all the better but this is a halfway
house. Try it out!
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Review those drills
My impression of drilling - intensive language practice
- repetition practice - is that drills are really popular
with students but not necessarily with teachers. Teachers
feel silly doing them & so don't do as much as they
could to help their students initially with new language
that is for oral production.Maybe it's a question of not
knowing the range & techniques that can be used. Here
is a list of the more common drills:
Question & answer
And some techniques that can
be used with drills:
For definitions of the above
Drills were used extensively within audiolingual
approaches but nowadays we recognise their limitations &
use them for pronunciation practice in helping the students
to get their mouths round the items. It is a chance for them
to say it right in a controlled, safe way before more challenging
tasks with the new language. They can be used after the presentation
& when correcting during a controlled activity or after
a freer one. These are for oral practice so if the language
you are introducing is used in the written form then give
a written drill! Drills can become a bit boring & predictable
if you don't keep them snappy & lively so make them fun.
It's also not the case that higher, more
advanced levels don't need drilling. If they find something
difficult to say then drill them. Clearly they are going to
find less language that is difficult to say than lower levels
but all the same if it's difficult to say then help them out.
Some past Teaching Tips related to drills:
For the tip on meaningful
& meaningless drills
For the tip 'A communicative
For the tip on mumble
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Work out where you are
This is connected to the 'Quick
thinking group roleplay' Tip. This time, instead of the
group, the idea is to give one of a pair a situation role
card & s/he has to begin the conversation. The other student
doesn't know the situation but has to respond quickly &
try to react normally. Bit by bit the student works the situation
Role cards for this could be:
- You are standing outside a phone box. You've
been waiting for
half an hour & it's raining. You think the other person
knows you're there but is not making any effort to hurry up.
- You are on a train & you go back to
your seat after having a cup of coffee in the buffet wagon.
You find your seat occupied - explain & try to get your
- You are in a shop & you think the shop
assistant has short- changed you.
- You are waiting for your girl/boyfriend
& it's late. S/he promised to be back in time for your
anniversary meal. You suspect her/him of having an affair.
S/he has just come back.
Do an example with a stronger student first
to give the idea that they should gradually give the game
away & not all at once. It can be a lot of laughs &
asks the students to use language spontaneously. Try it.
the Past Teaching Tips