(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your colleagues.)
At first, all the teachers wanted to administer the oral test for placing students into one of the four levels of conversation classes. But that enthusiasm waned once they discovered what this commercially-made placement test would entail.
Two major problems with many speaking placement tests (commercial and in-house)
1) The testing process in labor intensive. The scoring rubrics are onerous, ineffective and require time-consuming training.
2) Rather than just focusing on the skills being developed in speaking/conversation classes, the interviewers have to evaluate several peripheral aspects of speaking at the same time.
A Speaking Placement-Testing Process That Addresses Those Problems.
Here is how you can make your Writing class students’ and fellow Writing-Course colleagues feel satisfied at the end of a term. And here is how you can save yourself a large amount of time, energy and reduce stress.
The final class of the term has just finished. You look at your Level 4 Writing class roster and choose which students whom you are not sure if they have the writing skills necessary to be successful at the next level. Let’s say that out of your 16 students, six are in this “borderline” category. (You are confident in your decision to pass the other eight students and fail two.) You organize a file with writing samples for each of these six students.1 You give this file to the teacher at the next level, Level 5. That teacher reads your six students’ writings, and the next day meets with you. She tells you that she is confident that three of the students look ready for Level 5. You spend about 15-20 minutes talking about the other three students, reading parts of their essays together (sometime aloud) and analyzing their work.2 For students whom you both are still unsure about, you can look at more samples of their writing. In the end, the two of you decide one of them could pass and two should repeat Level 4. You feel assured that your students will be in the right level the next term and that you can explain to any student who might wonder why they failed what they need to work on in order to pass the next term. 3
(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)
Here is the link to the YouTube video: The Teacher’s Role During Student-Centered Conversation Activities
In this video, I discuss how teachers can provide valuable feedback to students about how they are carrying out pair/small-group activities. I explain how the teacher can be observing students and keeping brief (realistic) notes for each student, even in large classes. I also share some user-friendly feedback forms which teachers can fill out and give to each student. See link below. This process can provide students with specific information about how they can improve their conversation skills when working in pairs/small groups.
Here is the link to the feedback forms that I had discussed in the video which you can download for free to use you’re your students: Feedback forms for Conversation Classes 3
For more video discussions about teacher ESL, visit my YouTube channel: . Student-Centered Teaching ESL by David Kehe
Maybe this is why students tend to love their ESL classes.
We can actually include something in our lessons that will fire up the reward brain circuits in our students’ brains. However, there can be a downside to this.
Neuroscientists at Harvard found that people’s brain reward circuits lit up when they were talking about themselves. Amazingly, doing this can trigger the same sensations of pleasure in the brain as food, money or sex.
In other words, talking about ourselves feels good. In fact, it feels so good that participants in a study were willing to accept 25% less money if it meant that they could talk about themselves rather than talk about someone else.
This research has interesting implications for our ESL classes.
We now know how to help our students enjoy conversation activities, and that’s good. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Apparently, some students like the brain pleasure they feel so much that they can’t stop themselves from dominating conversations talking about themselves.
Techniques to encourage conversations/discussions but that keep students from dominating the activities.