Tag Archives: engaging students

• Meeting A Conversation Course Challenge: Three Levels of Students, One Classroom, One Teacher

Cover multi level Shot

Having three levels of students in one classroom can be overwhelming. But for a reading-skills or writing-skills course, it seems relatively do-able because students can work individually on the reading or writing tasks.

However, for a conversation course in which students need to be interacting with classmates, it’s impossible right? No, it’s definitely possible.

Here is how it has been done successfully with a user-friendly approach for the teacher and with students developing their skills as they would in a single-level class.

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• How We Can Develop Intrinsic Motivation in Our ESL Students. Specific Examples. (Part 2)

REV Cover Intrinsic Pt 2

As I mentioned in Part 1, it is possible for our ESL students to be intrinsically motivated to learn English.  And there are ways that we can help them develop this. I discussed the first two recommendations based on research: 1) Give Students Autonomy and 2) Explain the Purpose of the Assignment.. Here, in Part 2, I explain the other three recommendations along with specific examples.

 According to research, how we can promote intrinsic motivation.

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• How We Can Develop Intrinsic Motivation in Our ESL Students. Specific Examples. (Part 1)

REV Cover Intrinsic Pt 1

 

As I was leaving the hardware store with some light bulbs, I asked the very helpful clerk, Rich, what his plans were for that evening. He said, “I get to go home and play with my tools.” He was going to help his neighbor with some plumbing project.

I now realize that I was witnessing someone with pure intrinsic motivation. Even after spending all day selling tools, he enjoyed them so much that he was looking forward to working with them just for the pleasure and satisfaction that he got from them.

It is possible for our ESL students to be similarly intrinsically motivated to learn English.

 And there are ways that we can help them develop this.

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•ESL Student-Presentations (Part 1): Questioning the Reasons for Doing Them

Ink Cover presentation whole class

Our ESL program faced a mystery. For a couple of terms, students going from Conversation Level 3 (intermediate) to Level 4 (high-intermediate) were struggling with demonstrating basic conversation skills and some needed to repeat the course.

To analyze the problem, the Level 4 teacher recorded students in pairs and triads during an activity in which they were supposed to discuss a topic like “weekend plans,” “having kids in the future,” “social media,” and “emotions.” Then she showed the recordings to a small group of teachers, and we all noticed the same thing: the students weren’t actually interacting by asking a question, answering with some details, giving understanding responses or asking for clarifications and asking follow-up questions. Those are the skills that were supposed to have been introduced in Level 2 and reinforced in Level 3. Instead, those students tended to read from their paper a question which the partner(s) responded to briefly before reading the next question.

We asked the Level 3 teacher if he was surprised by his former students’ performance on these recordings. He said that he wasn’t too surprised because he had only spent half the term working on those skills, and during the other half of the term, he had them prepare and give presentations. His reasons, he told us, were based on his assumptions about the importance of doing presentations and also from some internet and YouTube sites promoting them.

This situation gave us an opportunity to re-evaluate our course goals and the basis for those. During our discussion, we examined the common assumptions for why teachers assign student-presentations.

Assumption 1: Presentations are an essential part of preparing ESL students to succeed in college course.  They are useful since students will surely have to make presentations in other classes, in college, and/or in their future jobs. In other words, ESL students should experience giving presentations because in 5 or 6 months from now when they are in mainstream classes, it is assumed that they’ll be giving presentations.

Response: To find out how true this assumption is, it’s helpful to learn what college actually instructors say.

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