These postings include conversation activities, teaching techniques, strategies for groupings and evaluations.

• Final ESL Conversation Speaking Tasks:  Most Meaningful Evaluation Forms

Oral exams PART 3 COVER REV

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.) *

In Part 1,   • Common Challenges and Goals for Final ESL Conversation Speaking Tasks , I described the challenges Conversation teachers face when deciding which students should be promoted to the next level. In Part 2, • Final ESL Conversation Speaking Tasks: Rating Three Methods I compared three different methods for determining this.

In this Part 3, I’ll share some final tasks for pairs and triads and evaluation forms that teachers can use to help them make the decision about the level each student should be in the next term.

My colleague was totally dumbfounded early in the term. Somehow some unprepared students in her Level 4 Conversation Class had been passed from Level 3. Then we found out how this happened. For the final task in Level 3, the teacher had students do presentations. Their final grade was mostly based on how well they had prepared and memorized their presentation monolog. Thus, students who had not developed actual conversation-skill techniques, like asking questions, using rejoinders, responding with details, and asking for clarifications, were able to pass Level 3.

In a truly student-centered Conversation class, most activities will revolve around students working in pairs, triads and small groups. Also, during the activities, they will be practicing techniques that will help them develop their conversation and discussion skills. Thus, it makes the most sense that their final task should mirror those two points.

Sample final task formats and evaluation forms.

(Notice: These could be used as a midterm and/or final exam.)

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• Final ESL Conversation Speaking Tasks: Rating Three Methods

REVISED Oral Exams Part 2 Cover shot

In Part 1, I described the challenges Conversation teachers face when deciding which students should be promoted to the next level. Also, I had included descriptions of the skills that teachers should consider when determining which students at five different levels should demonstrate in order to pass.

In this Part 2, we will analyze three methods teachers can apply to a final conversation task using these criteria:

Time teacher energy SHOT

The three methods including a recommended one.

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• Common Challenges and Goals for Final ESL Conversation Speaking Tasks

Oral exams PART 1 COVER

Imagine that it is nearing the end of the term, and you’ll soon need to decide which of your Level 4 students are ready to pass to Level 5 (or even good enough to skip Level 5).

As a student-centered teacher, a large percent of class time has been devoted to pair and small-group activities. Although you tried your best to give attention to each student during these activities in order evaluate their skills, you will now need to justify their final grades.

You are feeling some anxiety about this due to reactions some students and even fellow-teachers have had to your decisions in the past. Most students have not questioned their grades, and colleagues have been satisfied with the students that you have promoted. However, there have been some tense moments.

  • A few students who failed were upset. They felt that they should have passed because they were rarely absent, did all the assignments and made an effort. They questioned how accurately you could have evaluated their skills in a class with 15 students working in pairs and small groups.
  • A couple of students who had been less than serious about attendance and assignments and preferred to monolog or just chat in groups, accused you of failing them because you didn’t like them rather than based on their skills.
  • The previous term, the Level 5 teacher expressed concern that two students whom you had promoted didn’t seem to have the proper skills for that level.

In this Part 1, we’ll look at what ESL Conversation-class teachers should consider when trying to decide how they want to approach the responsibility of passing or failing students.

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• Effective Two-Way Tasks at Higher as Well as Lower and Intermediate Levels

Cover 2 way SHOT

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)*

This posting is an updated version of a post from Feb. 2, 2017: Conversation class: Necessary ingredients for successful pair work (from research)

Early in my career, I became a big fan of two-way tasks in my lower- and intermediate-level Conversation classes.

After several terms of teaching those levels, I was assigned to teach an Advanced Discussion class for the first time. In keeping with the spirit of student-centered teaching, I (as the teacher) wanted to avoid being the one to lead the discussions, so I put students in groups with a list of questions to discuss. However, I soon realized that some students were sitting passively and others tended to monolog.

Then I had an epiphany. By applying the two-way task principle to discussions, I could assure that every student would be equally active.

Basically, each student in a group is given different information. For discussions, every group has a Student A, B and C (and sometimes D and E) and the discussion questions are divided among them. Just as in a two-way task activity, this requires every group member to be involved in asking the questions, in active listening and responding.

For sample activities of how a variation of the two-way-task format can be applied to discussion, see *ESL Discussions: Free Small-Group Discussion Units

We can also use this format to help Advanced-level student develop discussion skills such as:

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