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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Aug 20th, 2011, 12:17 am
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Default Forcing young students into talking

This is a hot button issue at my school and more often than not I feel awful about this. My school has free, daily demos to attract new students. The demo is short (usually it lasts about 20-30 minutes at a time). In this demo we sing a song, do some greetings, and then play a couple interactive games.

The demo is also (usually) hosted by myself. Students generally have no former English training and are absolute beginners. Students are about 3-7 years old.

Lately we have been doing demos every single day. Sometimes we do 2-3 demos a day. With the recent rapidity of these demos I began to notice some rather disturbing things about some of the marketing staff at my school.

So, here's my problem! The marketing staff (and sometimes parents) want their children to begin speaking right away...from the very first hello! Nevermind that the students have no prior English learning and that we can't use Chinese (the native language) to help explain (which I don't use it in my normal classes at all).

I have read many places and heard from lots of teachers that the best way to approach new learners is to let them move at their own pace. I get dirty looks from the marketing staff when I use this approach. The school wants me to get the students talking immediately-no matter what! This pains me and I am refusing to do this.

Most students are already intimidated by having a foreigner (a true rarity in my city) talking to them in a strange tongue. I am friendly and happy and I do create a happy environment for the students.

I want to know if any of you have any suggestions. I've heard that forcing students to speak really can be stressful and can lead them to dislike English and the teacher. In these demos I'm required to get students talking (even a little 1.2 year I had today :X). I manage to get a couple words in the games and songs but that's about it with the very young learners (students 5+ are just fine).

So, any suggestions? Do any of you know a fun way to get students talking right off the bat? I use puppets, props, TPR/actions, songs, and drawings.

I am currently feeling a lot of pressure from my school. I am at an impasse right now. I want to keep my standards but also I need to please my school.

Ugh...why can't people be more patient?
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Unread Aug 25th, 2011, 12:00 am
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

Hello,

I am still trying to cope with my children so I'm sorry I can't help you...
Maybe you can talk to them and tell them that their expectations are unrealistic?
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Unread Aug 25th, 2011, 02:48 am
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

hiya Beatrix...

I've spoken with the headmaster as well as the marketing staff but they still insist on this. I didn't express that it was unrealistic tho...I just told them how it would affect the children.

Lately, I have included the parents in the demo as well. Some of the students are more comfortable talking a little bit if their parents are right there with them doing the same. Unfortunately, at this point they are just imitating their parents so I think that when they enter the classroom in a normal scenario (no parents) things might be more difficult.

Thanks for your reply. I will try and talk with them again.

Are you having difficulties with your classes? You can let us know what's up and we can try and help
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Unread Aug 28th, 2011, 04:05 am
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

Hello, I've read your TPR strategies for very young learners as far as discipline is concerned both on your site and here, but I have a problem that they simply don't pay attention to me.
Or some pay attention and some don't
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Unread Aug 28th, 2011, 04:06 am
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

They especially don't listen to the not talking part
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Unread Aug 28th, 2011, 05:19 am
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

Can you describe an average class? Do you play many games or sing songs?

Also, how do you motivate your students into listening?

Outside of the class I am pretty reserved and quiet (not shy, I am just a busy kinda guy). However, in my classroom I am sort of a clown. I try to be loud and funny. Part of our duty as ESL teachers is to kind of be an entertainer.

An example of me being funny would be when we review. Reviewing is often pretty boring so I really need to put on quite a show to make it really interesting. We often use low and loud voices (alternating) in reviewing content. When the students are especially loud I pretend to stumble back and massage my ear...as if they bust it. I use a lot of facial expressions (think something like Bruce Campbell). The students are laughing and giggling and just want to see what kind of crazy stuff I'll do next.

So...try to be some kind of entertainer with young children. They don't really understand why they are learning English (other than their parents want them to). Create a fun environment for them.

And remember...you can't win them all. Some students might have underlying issues as well (think ADD or something like that).
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Unread Aug 28th, 2011, 06:14 am
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

I know I need to clown a lot but I prefer those activities they find amusing without me having to do the entertaining part (I'll teach in kindergarten for the next six months only, then try to find some other job)
For example some games work well ... and now they have learned some activities and games, they do them without any problems

Introducing the new stuff is troublesome because they don't listen except for a very short period of time. Once they know the activity, they do it without any problems
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Unread Aug 28th, 2011, 06:17 am
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

Quote:
Quote chokosaki View Post
Can you describe an average class? Do you play many games or sing songs?

Maybe you are right, I have to clown if I want to have their attention.

For example, ex-baby group (current primary group) I can control only if we do only the "old" stuff during the class. The moment we start learning a new song, for example, they listen to me when I sing it for the first time, but lose interest after that
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Unread Sep 2nd, 2011, 05:55 am
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

I agree with you completely that is is terrible to rush children into speaking the language. I have a couple of strategies to help try to make the new less language less scary for the students and hopefully get them talking sooner.

Some children respond better talking to a puppet or a soft toy, rather than to the teacher. This makes it more personal. For example if they each brought in a toy they could talk to it instead of to you or to the whole class. Also, if you use a puppet to talk to the children, then they can respond to it instead of to you. Lots of children seem to find this easier, especially if the puppet plays with them or shakes their hand or whatever.

The other thing is to practise speaking the words in different voices. So for example instead of just repeating new words in their normal voices, you can demonstrate the words in different ways for them to copy, e.g. whispering, singing, high-pitched, very slowly, etc.

Hope these ideas help!
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Unread Sep 2nd, 2011, 11:16 am
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

Actually, I have a cute caterpillar stuffed toy that I use sometimes in this situation. It works quite well. Depending on how quickly the students respond to me (if at all...it's kinda rare when they don't respond) I will bring the stuffed toy out. I use it as kind of a puppet.

And I do the voices thing too actually. I use interesting voices to get them laughing (by using the power teaching method). I'll use high, low, robot, monster, fast, slow, etc.

One thing I've been doing lately is to include the parents into the demo lesson. This readily breaks down some walls. There's not too much of a problem anymore...just an occasional student but I'm not going to let it bother me

Thanks for your tips.
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Unread Sep 16th, 2011, 09:29 pm
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

We don't have only new students in demo classes unless there happens to be a group of friends who want to start together.

We only let one parent in at a time for a trial lesson and then ask them to take turns with other parents. Often they will stand outside the door so there is no eye contact with their child. We also have one trial student per class as with two many the class balance goes off.

We have found that with lots of review the other kids in the class shine and the trial parents worry the class is too hard. It's a difficult balance.

I often do a few songs that most kids know in Japanese, so the melody isn't new. But only after we've reviewed the vocabulary before singing so they can join in if they want.

I always do numbers, colors and sometimes animals in a trial lesson. We play games with the cards and often they kids will say something. If they are older, I read Brown Bear, Brown Bear because they usually know their colors and can help me read it.

Sometimes I get them to line up and use flashcards one at a time. They say the word, get a high five and run to the end of the line. If they don't know the card, they repeat after me. This gets most kids to at least say a word here and there.

I really don't think you can expect kids to talk their first lesson unless they've had some exposure to English before or are really outgoing.

Good luck!

Juli
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Unread Sep 28th, 2011, 09:12 pm
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

Hello!

Oh, I know how stressful your situation is. I often had to face parents like that, and in my old language course, most of the kids have no basic in English.

But the best we can do is to ask them memorize. We gave them a set of dialogues, daily life conversations, and we 'force' them to memorize it by heart. Simple dialogues such as: 'Miss, can I go to the toilet?' or 'Look, Miss, Max is running around and around and around and around!'

No problem for kids since their brain is still like a sponge anyway. I also use body gesture to emphasize the meaning. That way they will know what's going on without really knowing the language, and finally discovers what we really mean in the dialogue.

Hope it helps. Good luck!
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Unread Oct 1st, 2011, 09:46 am
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Default Re: Forcing young students into talking

To REVanessa---

The above situation I had posted about was just in a demo/trial lesson. Regular lessons with regular students....that's not a problem at all. I also teach chants and let the students memorize phrases. I generally teach the phrases with a '...' so the students can fill in the '...' themselves.

(IE: This is a...)

This gives a little bit of variety to what the students say and they can truly express themselves.
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