Tag Archives: small-group activity

• 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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• 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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• LINCS Topic 4: What are some ways that we can include interactive activities in ESOL Writing class?  

Cover 4 Interactive shot

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

This posting is a more detailed response to my interview question on Day 4 LINCS Discussion: Student-Centered Approach to Teaching Writing Skills. .

Below in blue, you’ll find the details that I’ve added to the Day 4 LINCS’ posting.

I have some interactive activities that I include during each writing unit.

They do give variety to a writing class, but more importantly, they are effective in helping students develop their writing and editing skills.

1) Writer-in-control peer editing. Type 1: Writers prepare questions.

In traditional peer-editing activities, the students read a classmate’s essay and give feedback by filling out a teacher-provided questionnaire, rubric or checklist. (For example, “Is the topic sentence clear?” “Are the verb tenses correct?”)

For this non-traditional approach below, the writers have control over the type of feedback they want. Here are the steps:

Step 1: (A model) Sample essay and peer editing questions. In order to demonstrate to students how they will peer-edit with a classmate and the type of questions that they can ask, they work with a model essay with peer editing questions that the “writer” has asked.
(See link to a model exercise below.) After working with a sample, they then apply this technique to their own essays, starting with the Preparation Step.

Step 2: Preparing for Peer Editor. After students have written their essays, they identify specific parts of it in which they’d like a peer’s advice.  These could be about the grammar in some sentences, clarification of an example, a need to add details etc. On a separate piece of paper, they write questions about these parts that they will ask a peer-editor. For example, “Look where I wrote #1. Is my example clear?” “Look where I have #4. Is there a problem with this sentence?” “Look at #8. How can I improve my conclusion?”

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• Developing Paraphrasing Skills: Oral Paraphrasing Before Written.

Cover paraphrasing shot

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

YouTube I discuss this posting in this video: Developing ESL Paraphrasing Skills Naturally: Start with Oral Paraphrasing Exercise

A good paraphrase can demonstrate to the teacher that the student truly understood the source. And if it is clearly written in the student’s normal style and level of vocabulary, the teachers can feel reassured that the writer wasn’t plagiarizing.

Paraphrasing may be a new concept for many of our ESL student. However, we can help them understand how to do it in a way that will let them “experience” what a good paraphrase is through a very natural process.

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