Our Educational Message

Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Grammar Speaking Circles

My colleague and I love teaching grammar. It may sound strange, indeed, because we know many of our colleagues complain about it.  They say that the students find it boring.  Grammar, like any subject, can be boring based on the way you teach it.  If you only teach straight from the grammar book with lots of gap-fills, it's not going to be engaging at all.  My colleague and I, though, are constantly looking for more interactive activities, whether classic or ICT-driven, in order to get the grammar point across to the students. For example, you can check my colleague's recent post on introducing the present perfect tense with James Bond. This post, however, is about a more classic activity that we do from time to time to get the students talking to each other and pushing them to use the new grammar point, yet in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Simply enough, we call it Grammar Speaking Circles.

Before class begins,  my colleague and I produce question cards that focus on the grammar that we are currently teaching.  The key, though, is not to only focus on the grammar.  We try to make the questions personal and about a topic that the students are likely to be interested in, like music, movies, sports, etc.  This way, the activity feels more relaxed as if we are just having a conversation, and the students will expand beyond simply answering the question.  To give an example, we recently had a grammar speaking circle on the second conditional.  Here are a couple of questions that we made:

Later, when class begins, you get the students to sit in a circle.  Each student is given one or two question cards, depending on how many students and how much time you have to spend on the activity.  My colleague and I typically give each student one card and spend about 20-25 minutes with the activity.  Then, students take turns asking their question to the group.  The teacher's job is simply to act as a facilitator and make sure that every student gets the opportunity to speak.  The teacher can also push students to expand on their answers.  As in the example question above about listening to only one song for the rest of your life, you could ask the students several follow up questions, such as 'Why is that your favorite song?', or 'What does that song mean to you?'  Again, the reason to have the speaking circle is to practice the grammar topic, but the main idea really is to just get students talking.

To sum up, it just so happened that a few months ago we were having a grammar speaking circle in class when an English professor, Michael Stout, from the University of Tsukuba, came to visit us.  He was simply blown away by the engagement and involvement from the students.  He couldn't believe that this was a grammar lesson.  Students were actively trying to use the grammar, but also talking to each other and not only to us.  He said that this type of activity would be difficult to do in Japan because students are more afraid of speaking in a group atmosphere there, so I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky in that respect.  It was an amazing coincidence that day, and it was so enjoyable sharing some of our practices and teaching methods with him. I truly believe that if you try this activity a few times, your students will enjoy it.  Our students now get really excited when they see it on the board as the upcoming day's activity.

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