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

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Watch, Listen and Tell: A Speaking Activity

Imagine this situation... You are teaching your students a new grammar point. You have introduced the topic via a PowerPoint presentation or by writing on the IWB, and your students have taken lengthy notes. Afterwards, you go through a page or two of practice in the grammar book. While you're checking the answers, you begin to notice that the classroom environment has gone rather flat. Students begin chatting to each other in their native language, they start rocking in their chairs, or they stare at the clock just hoping that the break time is coming soon. Then, all of the sudden, you tell some of your students to stand up and bring their chairs to the front of the class. You tell them to place the chairs in a row, but facing away from the board. Finally, you assign each of these students a partner, who then comes to the front of the class and stands directly in front of his or her partner.

At this point, the mood in the class has without doubt changed positively. The students are excited to be away from their desks without any materials, and they are curious about what they are going to do. You then explain to them that you will play a short video silently.  Since the students sitting down are facing away from the board or screen, they can't watch the video. Plus, by turning down the volume, they really won't have any clue as to what the video is about. Therefore, it is up to their partners to explain to them what is happening in the video!  Moreover, with all of the pairs speaking at the same time, the students truly have to listen carefully to their partners, or they will miss out.  To wrap things up, the students sitting down then have to relay the information they got about the video back to you, the teacher.

This is an activity that we call Watch, Listen and Tell. It has been a successful activity for us on days such as the one mentioned above. After doing several 'classic' academic tasks, such as grammar drills and sentence production, it is energizing for students to get up out of their seats for a bit and get ACTIVE.  It truly does change the classroom atmosphere in merely seconds. In addition, the students have the opportunity to practice several language skills at the same time.  First and foremost, it includes speaking and listening, not to mention the importance of teamwork. On top of that, though, you can structure it in a way to practice grammar or talk about the themes of a given book.  It all depends on the type of video that you wish to use.  That is the brilliance of the activity.  It is all in how you ADOPT & ADAPT it to your needs.

A Recent Example

To give you an example of how we have recently used this activity is when we taught the Past Continuous tense.  As stated above, we introduced the tense to the students via PowerPoint, and then completed several practice activities with the grammar in their books, and by sentence production.  We then introduced Watch, Listen and Tell.  

I decided to use a video that is several years old about a group of guys in Japan who are playing a card game in a library.  It seems like a routine card game until one of the players loses and is given an interesting punishment.  As they are in a library, they are not allowed to make any noise, and that's when the mayhem ensues.  The punished wants to shout, while the others are trying their best not to laugh at him hysterically.  It continues with even more and more interesting punishments as the game goes on.  You can check it out just below!

The reason I chose it is that it is extremely funny and engaging for high school students.  They simply couldn't believe what these guys were doing in the library.  Secondly, it gave the students a fantastic chance to practice both the Present Continuous and Past Continuous tenses.  While the video was playing, the students were allowed to use either/any grammar tense necessary to get the information across to their partners, but typically they used the Present Continuous tense to describe what IS happening in the video.  However, once I stopped it after only a minute or two, I then asked the students who couldn't watch the video what WAS happening in the clip.  Thus, they had to reply to me using the Past Continuous tense.  Finally, the partners swapped places, and we continued to watch a few more minutes of the video.

All in all, our students really enjoy doing this activity.  It is a great activity for those times when the students are a bit sleepy and need to get up out of their chairs. The bonus is that, even though it is fun for them, they do get to practice their listening and speaking skills.  However, it should be noted that the teacher needs to strictly state that only English can be used in the activity. Several students have a tendency to switch back to L1 whenever they can't describe something properly, or when they lose sight of the purpose of the activity.  Any students who constantly break the rule should immediately lose the chance to participate.  Whenever they are aware of this, though, students truly do try their best to use English throughout the activity, and that's all that we should expect of them.  After all, it is something fun that only comes along once in a while.

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