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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 27th, 2012, 03:12 am
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Default How do you get the students THINKING in English?

How do you get the students THINKING in English?
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Unread Feb 29th, 2012, 09:01 am
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Default Re: How do you get the students THINKING in English?

This is something that can only come with a lot of practice, repetition and exposure. I usually start by learning the "thinking words" in their native tongue and echoing in English what they've just said. That point, when they are trying to gather their thoughts, is the moment when the brain will switch back to mother tongue.... so for instance, I had a lot of students going "eeee~to..." in Japanese, so I corrected them when I heard it and said "hmmm.." or "One moment." (I don't teach uh or um, as they will use it too much and sound like they are stuttering!)

Now that my students know "I'm thinking" phrases, they are switching back to Japanese far less.
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Unread Feb 29th, 2012, 08:29 pm
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Default Re: How do you get the students THINKING in English?

Tough question. I think it's just important to tell them they should be trying to think in English and not constantly translating. But it's hard. I'm pretty fluent in Japanese and when I come across a thought that I can't express in Japanese, my thought process turns back into English.
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Unread Feb 29th, 2012, 10:01 pm
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Default Re: How do you get the students THINKING in English?

Hi Arielhud,

That's a good tip. Roughly what level are these students and what level would you say this is good for?
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Unread Mar 2nd, 2012, 03:14 am
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Default Re: How do you get the students THINKING in English?

I don't think you can expect people to "think" spontaneously in the language until they are at a fairly advanced stage. However, I do think it's useful to get them to think through what they want to say before they actually say it - a technique I call silent planning, though I've also seen it called "Inner Voice". Basically, before the students say anything, you ask them to plan what they want to say in English. Say for example you want them to have a discussion on "What did you do at the weekend?". Before putting them into pairs you would ask them to close their eyes and visualise themselves having the conversation, thinking about what they want to say, what questions the other person might ask, how they would reply, etc. They are trying to get a mental image of the conversation, in English, but also to identify anything that they want to say and can't. After the visualisation, they then have a chance to ask you for the missing language, which goes up on the board, before they actually start talking.
This is very similar to what a lot of sports people do - tennis players for example may visualise hitting the ball perfectly - the idea being, that if the brain creates a mental image of how the action "feels", the body will carry it out automatically in the real situation. I'm trying to get the students to do much the same thing.
The example I've given presumes a certain level, but I start the work right at beginners level - even when I'm doing repetition work, I ask the learners to repeat the utterance silently in their minds before repeating it chorally - again, to create the mental "feel" of the language.
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Unread May 11th, 2012, 01:40 am
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Default Re: How do you get the students THINKING in English?

I currently prepare Chinese students for IELTS and they have that habit of uttering certain phrases in Chinese when they can't speak on during the test.
- wo wang le = I forgot
- shemme shuo = How do you say...
- ne ge ne ge ne ge = er er er
I teach them to say these in English. It helps.
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Unread May 18th, 2012, 09:14 am
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Default Re: How do you get the students THINKING in English?

I agree with all the above and also want to add that thinking in a language other than your own really only happens naturally...and after a lot of exposure to that language. It can't be forced but asking students to think through what they want to say in English before they say it helps a lot.

I always ask my students to try not to translate in their heads but you can literally see them doing it in the beginning. It stops after a while of constant exposure to English. And although, I don't think that it is realistic to say that teachers should only ever speak in English in their classes, it does help if students hear lots of English and very little of their mother tongue during class.

I sometimes ask students to actively "think" in English during one whole hour every day if they can handle it. This means literally talking to themselves in their own heads for an hour a day. It's easy in the car, while you're brushing your teeth, waiting for the bus, exercising etc.. Some like this exercise and some don't. Don't force it, it'll come on its own.
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