Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sharing English Speaking Activities

What's the purpose of learning a language? To be politically correct, we would probably say something like, "Of course, to be able to communicate in that language.", even though in reality, we don't provide opportunities or deliberately ignore the importance of it because of this test-driven mindset.

However, helping students EXPERIENCE a bit of what it's like to speak the language in an authentic context has been my most fundamental philosophy of English teaching. When you can actually use the language to talk to someone, conveying your thoughts and feelings, you will feel so much more motivated and have fun learning it compared with being overwhelmed by loads of written tests and mechanical grammar drills.

With some examples that I actually tried out in my own class, I introduced up to 10 activities in the workshop by engaging participants in every one of them. Those activities all share something in common, which is that USING the language will make learning it fun. Of course, as a teacher, we also have to provide sufficient and effective scaffolding. You don't just throw students in an awkward situation and expect them to speak. That's just not gonna happen.

The other half of the workshop was all about using screen recording software, including Screencastify, Open Broadcaster System, and ActivePresenter. They're all super easy to use. With only one laptop, we can get students to record their English presentations with ease. On top of that, we teachers can also record our lectures of grammar at home prior to the class so that there will be plenty of time for us to conduct more intriguing activities.

Keeping a right balance between real application and rote memorization of the language is a constant challenge to any teacher who wishes to fulfill the real purpose of learning a language. However, we teachers can still manage to make time for English speaking activities and let our students enjoy learning English.

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