Comment on Willy Cardoso’s post on Silence and control (Part II)

25 07 2011
mcneilmahon says:

July 25, 2011 at 2:44 am

Fascinating reading Willy, many thanks for sharing. With regards the films non-conversation, I think perhaps your expectations are possibly unrealistic, since as Scott points out, this often happens in conversations in L1 as well. In fact, I’d say it happens in A LOT of conversations in L1, and this is probably much more likely to be the reason for the students wanting to tell you rather than interact with their peers rather than any flaw in your activity.

‘What’s the point? I thought to myself. They chose the topic, but all they wanted was to tell ME about it and know if they made any mistakes?’

Point is, not only did the students choose what to talk about, but they chose how to talk about it – in a way that reflects their behaviour in L1 conversations. One way to respond to this is to impose a more interactive task, or you could just accept it as their way of conversing and move on – it’s still a worthwhile task if you’ve listened and given them language feedback as they wish.

Or perhaps you could involve the students in designing a listening task which develops their listening skills and gives them an intrinsic reason to listen (something to do with thinking about which films they may want to watch seems the obvious way to go here). Perhaps this could be done next lesson, using your initial intriguing format – ‘In one minute write down what you remember of your classmates films…’ as a way of leading in to listening more to each other and conversing rather than presenting.

Looking forward to hearing more about your classes.

Thanks, Neil!
You’re right, in fact, I should be happy they chose the topic and chose how to talk about it, and they did talk a lot, even if without too much interaction. I think that part of my frustration comes from the fact that I don’t enjoy seeing students just waiting for their turn and not listening to others, in this type of activity one can easily be quiet for 25 minutes until their turn.

Today, I included some more interactive elements like having students stand in the front for speedy presentations and it worked well, the level of attention was generally very high, I’ll even write about the whole activity in a later blogpost because it did work really well.

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