Getting students to talk about emotional topics

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Getting students to talk about emotional topics

Unread postby girlinczechland » 11 Aug 2009, 10:32

Hi Lucy,

This is a bit of a theoretical question I guess but as you have lots of experience hopefully you'll be able to help me out.

Obviously teachers want to get their students to produce more complex, longer stretches of talk and so getting them to recount events which have an emotional resonance is one way of doing this. I've attended training sessions with titles like 'Speaking From Within' which this kind of approach .

However, I'm sure I also remember hearing research cited which suggested that when we start to talk about an emotional topic, we are actually less likely to remember to be accurate and any new vocab as we're too focused on the content of what we're saying. Any ideas specifically where I might have got this from?

As I said, I know this is a bit theoretical but hopefully others will find the subject of 'emotional classroom talk' interesting and useful.


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Re: Getting students to talk about emotional topics

Unread postby Lucy » 12 Aug 2009, 14:25

I find this a really interesting question. I’m sure I’ve heard of this theory before but I can’t remember where. I’ve noticed myself when giving discussion tasks on emotionally-engaging topics that students can make more mistakes. Generally speaking, when students are focusing on the message they’re putting across – rather than on the actual language – they make more mistakes, even in language they actually know. During such tasks, I’ve also heard students use a difficult phrase correctly and seen their joy in doing so.

I spent some time considering where you might find a reference to this theory or research and I can’t think where I’ve seen it. Pilgrims school and series of books cover this topic well (for names of authors, look at their site under teacher training). Piaget and Julian Edge wrote about errors. You could start with any of these authors. If you find it, please write again to let us know. I’d love to find out who it was who said this. If I come across the name or piece of research, I’ll let you know.


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