Argumentation Essay: Tapping into Creativity

creativity in argumentation

Opportunity for creativity

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

A student of mine once wrote an essay about requiring parenting courses for future parents.  In her essay, she mentioned her husband and 2-year-old child, which made for powerful support.  I was quite surprised because, up until then, I had no idea that she was married, much less a mother.  While conferencing with her, I told her about my surprise; she smiled and said that it was not true; she had just made it up.

Wow!  What a clever idea!

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Best Subject for an ESL Integrated-Skills Class (Parts 3 & 4: Discussion and Writing aspects)

discussion abc

Discussion and Writing Skills

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

It may surprise some how closely discussions and writing assignments are intertwined in an academic integrated-skills course.  The writing assignments are often related to the readings in the course, and the students are required to summarize and paraphrase from the passages.  One of the best ways to helps students do this is if they’ve had a chance to talk about the ideas in the passages.  In other words, they “orally paraphrased” the readings before they are asked to paraphrase from them in writing tasks.

To illustrate how reading, discussion and writing can be integrated to help students develop each skill, we’ll follow up to the reading passage about why Asians often seem so shy in social situations compared to westerners from Part 1. Best Subject for an ESL Integrated-Skills Class (Part 1 Overview) I’ll include some specific activities:

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Best Subject for an ESL Integrated-Skills Class (Part 2 of 4: Reading aspect)

party shy

Feeling shy in social situations

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

Why do Asians often seem so shy in social situations compared to westerners?

To illustrate how the subject of cultural differences is the best subject, I’ll include a reading passage about this followed by discussion and writing activities related to this.

This “shyness” topic is an effective one for demonstrating the important aspects of this “best” subject:

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Best Subject for an ESL Integrated-Skills Class (Part 1 Overview)

Culture

Studying about the reasons for cultural differences

This post may sound like I am contradicting a previous post of March 13th, “Integrated vs Discrete Skills ESL Courses: Advantages of Discrete Skills”   Despite my support for segregated skills in general, an integrated skills course with higher-level students who are more homogeneous in ability can be effective and practical.

For an integrated skills 1 course to be effective and engaging to the students, the subject should be something which is inherently appealing to the majority of the students.  After all, the students will be spending the course time reading, writing, and talking about the subject.

One subject which has been enthusiastically received by both students and instructors is culture, and more specifically, differences in cultures and the reason for these differences.

Some examples of these are:

-Why are people in western cultures more likely than people from eastern cultures to smile at a stranger standing at a bus stop than?

-In a study of 4-year-olds, why did the Asian children spontaneously share their candy with another child but the American children only reluctantly share when asked.

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Great Self-Study Conversation Technique: Not an Oxymoron

transcribing

Self-study conversation technique

When I was living in Japan and in Africa, I occasionally met a non-native English speaker who spoke almost fluent English with clear pronunciation, natural intonation and mature vocabulary and had great listening skills.  Naturally, I assumed that they must have spent time in an English-speaking country or had English-speaking friends or a tutor, but all of them told me that they had never left their country and had little contact with English speakers.  However, I soon learned that all of them had one thing in common: each of them had developed their oral skills through one fairly simple technique.

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Integrated vs Discrete Skills ESL Courses: Advantages of Discrete Skills

Startup Stock PhotosAfter the first day of the term a few years ago, I noticed a long line of students outside our Academic ESL (English for Academic Purposes—EAP) director’s office.  It was my first day teaching in this program, so, needless to say, I was curious.  It turns out these students all felt that they were not in the right level.

I soon discovered that this was a common occurrence on the first day of each term.   During that first term for me, we made a change to the format of the courses.  After that, students rarely complained about being in the wrong level.  And students’ skills improved substantially.   Here is what we did.

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Conversation magic: Two most important conversation techniques (Part 1)

"That's interesting!" Photo by alvesgaspar

“That’s interesting!” Photo by Alvesgaspar

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

Making conversation magic happen

After a colleague used these techniques, she told me with wonder in her eyes, “I saw magic happen in my class today.  My students suddenly became very animated, their voiced rose, and they were laughing!” 

Then she wondered if it was some kind of set up.  In other words, by using these techniques, students have no choice but to feel like someone is interested in what they are saying.

In a sense, she is right.  But isn’t that what we hope our students will experience? These are the two techniques:

1) Use rejoinders to show that they understand what the other has said by giving understanding responses.

2) Ask follow-up questions to maintain the conversation and to show interest in each other..

When someone uses these in a conversation, their interlocutor can’t help but feel like someone thinks they are interesting to talk to.

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