外教Ben Prudek先生的口语教学心得

发布者:发布时间:2012-11-06浏览次数:39

Comments on teaching Oral English:

It seems like, regardless of a student's overall English ability, the area with which he or she struggles most Oral English, namely conversational English. I think the vocabulary, reading, grammar, literature, and most other aspects necessary for success in English, the students learn in their other English classes. This semester I have shied away from teaching speeches, because what students seem to be lacking most is the ability to think spontaneously and have a conversation without much preparation. So these are precisely the situations that I try to simulate in my class.

Free Talk

At the beginning of each class I give my students about 20 minutes to discuss whatever they want. If they need help beginning, I suggest a topic (What did you do during the holiday? How do you entertain yourself? What is a useful trick you have for learning a foreign language?...)

Instead of letting them speak with the person sitting next to them (who is usually their best friend, and with whom they might begin speaking Chinese because they're comfortable with each other and not afraid of losing face by disobeying the teacher), I assign them to pairs after shuffling their name cards (cards on which their names are written and which I shuffle at the beginning of every class).

The first minute or so is somewhat akward (they don't like to change seats, they don't want to speak with the boys, they're tired, etc.), but soon the conversations are going smoothly. I walk among them to make sure they are only speaking English.

Group discussion

I give my students a short text to read in preparation. After Free Talk, we go outside (or find a large enough room), and sit in a circle so we're facing each other instead of looking at each others' backs. I ask a variety of questions, some explicitly answered in the text, but most requiring students to volunteer their own information or ideas. Instead of calling on them individually (which, besides potentially shaming the student, is exhausting and frustrating for the teacher), I let them volunteer. Students who speak receive a check next to their name, and subsequently receive points for that period; students who do not speak at all receive no points for that period.

Conversation homework with foreign students

Though their accents are not exactly those of Australians, English, or Americans, the overall English level of the foreign students at NMU is still much higher than that of the Chinese students. For this reason, I require my Oral students to spend at least an hour each week in conversation with foreign students. (At the beginning of each week I give them two white slips of paper -- each representing half an hour -- for the foreign students to sign, to verify that they have spoken with them.)

I grade primarily on attendance, homework, and participation.

Movie exercise

I believe the visual-auditory media of movies and television are better teachers native accents than exercise tapes with recorded conversations. Movies and television series give historical and social context, which make the sample more interesting AND teaches the student about the culture in which the speaking takes place.

Here is an exercise for teaching students to recognize native accents.

Select a movie set in a time and place whose language you want to learn. Any genre of movie is fine - action/adventure, romance, drama, comedy, etc. - as long as there are several characters (preferably more than two), and the people in the movie are speaking the kind of English you want to learn. (If your students are going to America, "Pride and Prejudice" would not be a good movie A. because the accents are distinctly British, and B. because the British English they speak is of a quality and intelligence uncommon to ordinary conversation.)

Select a scene from that movie -- maybe 5-15 minutes long -- and play it once WITHOUT English subtitles. The teacher should pause the movie at the end of every statement, for a few second only -- just enough to let the students write down the first thing they think the characters are saying.

(There are at least two broads types of thinking: thinking that involves planning, reflection, etc., and instantaneous thinking. Instantaneous, spur-of-the-moment thinking is the type of thinking that goes on when you realize you're about to get hit by a car, it is also the type of thinking involved in conversation among fluent speakers of a language.

When native speakers are speaking casually/informally with each other, they don't pause at the end of every word to evaluate and plan their next word. They speak in a fluid string...This type of immediate-reaction thinking is the kind I'm trying to develop by only giving the students a few seconds at the end of every sentence to write down what they think the character(s) said.

I am convinced that volume of exposure is more valuable in developing conversational skill, than repeated in-depth examination of only a few sentences.)

Watch the same scene again -- pausing every once in a while if you wish (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't) -- WITH English subtitles.

If you wish, watch the scene again without English subtitles.

The students will probably be pleased with how much more they can understand even though the subtitles are absent.

For the added benefit of learning new words and expressions, ask the students to record words and expression that are new to them, and have the teacher (who should have already watched this scene several times) explain what they mean.

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