Risk Taking

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Risk Taking

Unread postby Jacks » 19 Nov 2009, 01:04

Hello, Lucy. I would like you to help me out with this: I am from Colombia, and I am teaching English as a Foreign Language. I try to encourage my students to take risks in classes, they are lower intermediate, the ratio of ages is between 15 and 17 (public school in Neiva - Huila (Colombia) But even I am friendly and try not to focus on the grade, but in the competence I want them to develop, and try different activities in classes they just don't want to speak. I don´t know what else to do. They even know I only take into account good contributions to the topic we are dealing with, and the fact they take the decision of speaking...not correcting them too much, even so, they just don't say anything but: "I can't" "I don't know" or even worst, just silence!
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Encouraging students to take risks

Unread postby Lucy » 21 Nov 2009, 20:24

Hello,

You are taking the right attitude towards this class. You are right not to focus too much on accuracy and to encourage contribution. Well done!

Unfortunately for you, you’re dealing with an age group that is reluctant to speak out in front of their peers and especially reluctant to express an opinion that is different to the rest of the class. This means that if you are doing work that involves expressing an opinion, if it difficult to get the first person to state their opinion. You haven’t said what type of speaking activity you’ve done with the class but my advice to you is to stay away from anything that involves expressing an opinion (debates, etc).

You could try any or all of these:

structured dialogues
dialogues where they substitute some of the words themselves
students prepare questions for an interview
find someone who... exercises
dictations in pairs (in pairs students read texts to a partner; the partner writes it down)
picture dictation (one student has a picture, he/she describes it. The partner draws it) .

The ideas above will get students speaking in a controlled way. When they are more confident and used to speaking , you can introduce different activities.

Also take a look at these posts where I’ve answered similar questions.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=602

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3150

All the best,

Lucy
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