May 25, 2013 | 04:29 PM (BD Time)
25 May, 2013 Saturday
Conducting conversation class
Conversation pertains to learning English practically as it is the second most important way of human communication. So, a teacher must arrange conversation sessions and classes based on the prescribed syllabus and related items. The following roles of a teacher may bring success to the students who learn English as a second language.
A teacher facilitating a conversation class must create a conducive atmosphere whose students feel free to express themselves. When the teachers knows the name the students, it makes them closer to each other and the students feel free to express themselves and along with it encouraging comments add extra benefit. The teacher should give a hearty laugh when situation demands. A smile generates warmth and response. The teacher should ensure that each student gets maximum opportunity to talk. Students should not be allowed to take notes during conversation class. They feel shy and stammer and ultimately want to surrender but the teacher must retain the interest and encourage them saying they have started speaking and it is getting good gradually. Students will try to shift from English to Bengali as it is very natural. The teacher should again divert their conversation in English When some are seen to become inattentive, the teacher may ask them some questions so that they become alert and can be back to the conversation. The teacher himself/herself can also ask one or two questions to other students and ask the inattentive ones to repeat the same questions.
Enthusiasm is infectious. The teacher should express enthusiasm to more actively engage the students in conversation. He should show much patience in the conversation class and put himself/herself in the place of the students remembering the struggle to express his/her ideas when he/she was first learning English. He/she should tell the students that they should be a critical listener without interrupting the students' conversation because good listeners can be good speakers. Pronunciation or grammatical mistakes can be corrected by uttering the words/sentences the students have used without directly interrupting them.
The teacher is to remember when designing course that the students are the main target. He needs to find out what their needs are. Why do they want to learn English? What are some situations where they will use it? Have them bring topics that they wish to discuss. In this manner, you will be able to integrate the topics that they will need. Choose task based lessons so that students have a change to do meaningful tasks based on real life situations and on the target language. The main thing in conversation classes is to actually use a topic for your questions that the students are interested in talking about topics they would want to talk about in their native language will give them greater satisfaction and encourage them to develop their language skills to the point whether they can express themselves fluently.
The teacher in the conversation class must consider that some students remain timid in expressing their viewpoints because (i) students don't have an opinion on the subject (ii) students have an opinion, but are worried about what the other students might say or think (iii)students have an opinion but don't feel they can say exactly what they mean (iv)students begin giving their opinion but want to state it in the same eloquent manner that they are capable of in their native language (v)other more actively participating students, feel confident in their opinions and express them eloquently making the less confident students more timid. Having been assigned roles, opinions and point of view that they do not necessarily share, student are freed from having to express their own opinions. Therefore, they can focus on expressing themselves well in English. In this way students tend to concentrate more on production skills and less on factual content.
Short role play can make a conversation class more activated and interesting. Once students become comfortable with target structures and representing differing points of view, classes can move onto more elaborate exercises such as debates and group decision making activities. This approach bears fruit especially when debating opposing points of view. By representing opposing points of view student imaginations are activated by trying to focus on all the various points. One area that is easily overlooked by teachers of English conversation is the need to help student be aware of the learning process as it relates to language acquisition. First-time teachers need to keep this in mind as they face the arduous task of teaching language fluency in the short time allotted them. It is sometimes mistakenly assumed that after years of schooling, each student has already acquired the proper learning skills. Student may seem apathetic dejected belligerent and even unable to learn but these attitudes are the result of being confused and trusted. The root of the problem is not necessarily with methods or students' attitudes but with the fact that too much is taken for granted, many times students simply don't know what they are supposed to do and when they do, they don't know how to go about doing it. Many times the motivation exits and the teacher have good command of the various teachniques, but the students simply do not know how to go about learning the language. This is due to the fact that learning a language is often outside their experiences, first because learning one's native language was simply a natural part of growing up and second because normally the study of English takes place only with the goal of passing entrance examination and hence the paper test phenomenon of concentrating on grammar.
To begin with students of English conversation must understand the fundamental difference between learning about the language and learning to use it for verbal communication. The common analogy of learning to drive a car or play a musical instrument is useful in demonstrating this point. We can learn all about the parts of a car or instrument, how they are made and what their functions are as they relate to the whole, but it does not necessarily follow that with this knowledge we will be able to get behind the steering wheel of a care or pick up an instrument for the first time and drive or play well. They only way to become a good driver is to practice driving. The only way to be able to play an instrument well is to practice playing it. Likewise, the only way to become a good English speaker is to practice speaking English.
Another important point to make is that English is not just a set of rule. It is not black and white, right or wrong as mathematics is with its equation and symbol which must calculate up every time. The initial goal then is not accuracy of use but is to communicate. Accuracy of use will aid ability to communicate but it should not be allowed to hinder the communication process. It is important to be realistic. Students are not going to be able to say all that is on their minds or even accurately express themselves from the start. A basic rule is not to dwell on simple mistakes in grammar or usage. Stemming directly from the previous point is the need to stress that learning a language is imaginative, creative and even artistic.
Each speaker is continually adding their idiosyncrasies as they use the language to express their unique ideas and views or simply to say things; the language is continually in a state of flux. English conversation class cannot be passive. The students need to be aggressive, putting in as much effort as they expect to get out of it. This means that students need to actively participate in the classroom by asking questio
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