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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 21st, 2008, 08:25 am
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Question conversation help for teenagers

hello
i am teaching 4 classes at a school in Italy and i am having real trouble coming up with ideas for the class. The main problem is they cant speak English! The one hour lesson i teach them each week is meant for conversation but the children can hardly speak English.

the 4 classes are all different levels
2 are in their first year of this school so are 11-12/13 and only understand present simple
one class is in their 2nd year
one class is in their 3rd year and they both know past simple and i think the 3rd class know a little future.

any help would be great!!!!!
thanks in advance.
Rachael
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Unread Mar 22nd, 2008, 04:08 pm
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Default Re: conversation help for teenagers

Are you giving them the language they need to discuss the topics youíre assigning them first?

With that age group and level especially, itís a good idea to thoroughly prepare them before you actually have them speak freely in pairs, groups or whatever. Give them plenty of relevant lexis and example grammatical structures beforehand, so that they have a solid direction to follow.

This should reduce their anxiety and make them feel more comfortable opening up their mouths.
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Unread Mar 24th, 2008, 10:19 pm
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Default Re: conversation help for teenagers

A conversation is basically questions and answers. When I am working with students with very little English, I try to start with something more concrete like a page from a children's picture book. Have them make statements about what they are seeing in the picture. Then have them ask questions to someone else. Once they build more vocabulary...the conversations can begin to move from the concrete to the abstract.
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Unread Mar 27th, 2008, 04:59 am
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Default Re: conversation help for teenagers

I like to loosen them up with a soap opera. It's a great 'free speaking' activity and gives you a chance to really see what they can do.

Take in LOADS of photos cut out of magazines. People, cars, places, objects etc.
Present your own soap opera, using the pictures to help explain the story (in the present simple, a little past if necessary) The more interesting you make it the better they will respond. It will also give them the green light to make their soap a little off the wall.

Now put them in groups and tell them to prepare their story, which they will present at the end of the lesson. By working together on it, they will use the language they know, but also be constantly asking you " How do you say ::: in English?", thus extending it.

Even if the classes already know the present simple, it's great recycling and a fun way to use the language.

good luck.

BTW, where in Italy are you? I'm in Cagliari, getting ready to hit the beach as soon as the sun decides to show up!
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Unread Apr 1st, 2008, 08:16 pm
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Default Re: conversation help for teenagers

Here's something I do with my ESL kids and my German kids when they are having a difficult time speaking...

I give them a short story that's appropriate for their level. They read it and illustrate it - no written words. They retell the story in English (or German) to a classmate and then they retell the story to the class. After that it's much easier for us to discuss the who, what, where, when, why, and how's of the story. From there you can have them talk about what they would do differently, how they would make the story better, etc.
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Unread Apr 2nd, 2008, 04:45 am
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Thumbs up Re: conversation help for teenagers

thank you all so much for the help.

I think i may enjoy these lessons with your advice now!!!


well back to planning the lessons then!
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Unread Apr 6th, 2008, 07:55 am
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Default Re: conversation help for teenagers

I suggest you take an article out of some newspaper or magazine, something about kids their age and discuss with them..at least this is what we used to do when I went to middle school.
Bye
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Unread Apr 10th, 2008, 02:40 pm
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Default Re: conversation help for teenagers

I'm a big fan of TPR (Total Physical Response). There have been many articles written about it, so do a Web search if you want to give it a try. At first you'll be doing all the talking, but you'll see that they want to start talking too. Best of luck.
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Unread Apr 27th, 2008, 05:40 pm
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Default Re: conversation help for teenagers

Sing fun songs short pieces at a time. and play games.
Teach them English like you would a baby
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Unread May 1st, 2008, 02:12 am
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Default Re: conversation help for teenagers

At least for the two first year classes, the kids probably don't have a lot of vocabulary to draw from. You'll need to introduce some vocabulary and simple grammar if you want to get them talking.

Here's an example of something I do for my elementary school students:
Let's say you want to start teaching them "How are you?" / "I'm fine, okay, great, happy, sad, sick, tired."

First, introduce the vocab and make sure they've got the hang of it. This should only last about 8 to 10 minutes.

Then do a game to help them with their listening. Karuta (also called Snap or Slam) is a good way. Split the kids into small groups and have a bunch of flashcards with the pictures of the vocab you're using. When you call out a word, they race to slap the card first. To make sure they're listening, say words that have already been called (that they can't slap anymore). That way at the end of the game, when only the last vocab word is left, they actually have to listen to make sure that you're saying the word that's on the card.

Next, do a game to get them speaking. Battle Janken (sometimes called Touch the Base) is a good one that kids usually love. Set a bunch of flashcards out in a line either on the floor or on a bunch of desks/long table. Split the kids into two groups and have them line up at either end of the table. Say start, and one kid from each team has to race down the line of flashcards, saying the correct vocabulary word for each card. Once the kids meet in the middle, they do rock paper scissors. The kid that wins continues down the line of cards. The kid that loses has to return to the end of the line for their team, and the next kid in line starts racing down the line of cards. They keep doing this until one of the teams is able to get to the end of the line of cards (which will be in front of the other team) and wins the RPS battle. My kids love this game because there is never any way to know who will win. Even if a kid gets all the way down to the other end of the card line, they can lose the RPS battle. The kids that aren't as good at English can still win for their team if they happen to luck out with RPS.

Then do a call/response game to get them started on a conversation. Having the kids speak in groups helps the shy ones that are worried about making mistakes. Split the class in half and give each group a card for them to feel (So, team A gets "I'm great!" and team B gets "I'm sick."). Team A starts and asks "How are you?" to team B. Team B responds "I'm sick, and you?". Team A says "I'm great!" Then you give them new cards and have team B start the dialogue. Do this a few times so that the kids are comfortable with it. You can have the kids try to shout louder than each other, or say it more quietly than the other team to get the energy going, if you want.

By this time, the kids will probably be ready to mingle and talk to each other on their own. You can give each kid a card for how they're feeling. You can tell the kids that they have to race to try to talk to the most kids in class in a certain amount of time. The student that talked to the most people can get a sticker or something, if you want to bribe them. Have the kids do RPS to decide who asks "How are you?" They do the dialogue: A "How are you?" B "I'm _____ and you?" A "I'm ____. See you later!" B "Bye!" (Or whatever you had them practice before).

If they're not ready to be on their own, you can have them RPS with you before you send them off on their own.

Sorry that was really long. It's just an example of something really basic. Hopefully you can get some ideas.

Good luck!
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