Tag: test

It’s boring only hearing from the same few students! – Encouraging Oral Participation

It’s boring only hearing from the same few students! – Encouraging Oral Participation

Recently, a colleague observed my grammar class. The 30 learners are B2-C1 level and the class is required for their degree programme (English Studies). I usually set up my gramamr classes so that the activities build on each other to move from re-capping basic points to more advanced fineties of certain structures, so we discuss answers to exercises together to check everyone has understood before we move forward.

Usually, I do think-pair-share, or check answers in plenum. But often only a few students volunteer to share their answers with the class and I end up trying to coax the others into speaking.

I’d never really noticed before, but my colleague pointed out that I often say “It’s boring only hearing from the same few students!” He suggested that this might make those who volunteer to contribute feel that they are boring or should not put their hands up so often: the opposite effect of what I’m trying to achieve. And so I am trying to think of new things to say, of new ways to encourage the others to share their answers. 

So far, I’ve tried “Let’s hear from someone new” and things like “Let’s hear from someone in the back row”. I sometimes also call on individual students, but I often have the feeling that they don’t like being put on the spot like that…

And so this blog post is rather a plea – please help! What else can I say or do to encourage other students to volunteer to share their answers in plenum?? Please write your suggestions below!!

Have they got the point?

How do you know that your students have understood the main message of what you’re aiming to teach them? There are many short activities that teachers employ at the ends of their lessons to check whether the key information or point has really been understood and taken on board by their students.

Here’s a new one I have been trying out recently – with success!

Text messages. SMS. Whatever you want to call them … they are an excellent tool that can be employed quickly and effortlessly at the end of your lessons. Most students these days have a mobile phone, and probably spend a lot of their free time using it. So why not allow them to use it at the end of your class, and actually make them use it in a way that is meaningful for their learning.

Try it: At the end of your lesson, where you have taught some new information, ask your students to send you one SMS text message with their summary of the lesson’s main point. Although many may be using internet-based services which allow them to send longer messages (often for free), limit the message to a standard text message (about 180 characters) to ensure they express themselves concisely.

You can then either read out a couple of the best, or respond individually (probably best if you use a free service for this!) to give feedback. Reading the short messages will give you a good indication of whether your learners have got the point you were trying to teach, and whether you need to re-cap anything in the next lesson.

As a variation, you could pose a quiz-style question which re-caps your lesson’s content and get them to answer it by text message. This is especially helpful for EFL classes – you can pose a question that requires them to use the target language structures in their answer, and then check whether they’re able to use the new language accurately.

And the usefulness of text messages continues… if you are asking your students to write an essay or prepare a presentation and you want to check that they are on the right track, as them to text you the thesis statement or overarching message of their work. This enables you to give feedback where necessary, and also ensures that the learners actually have an overarching thesis for their work!

Nowadays, texting is so quick, easy, and cheap (if not free) – so why not embrace it to enrich your teaching?

Note: You may want to buy a pre-paid SIM card so that you don’t need to give your learners your private phone number. 🙂