Thursday, November 21, 2019

Getting Language-gifted Students to Speak English

With frequent video calls to a native speaker, my students are learning to express themselves in English. 

Thanks to Jessica's help, my gifted students have been enjoying this fun and authentic environment to practice speaking English. More importantly, they get to use three primary language skills, including listening comprehension, basic speaking skills, and paragraph writing. 

In preparation for a Skype session with a Japanese high school, my students picked up a place in the campus and wrote a script so that they would be better prepared to present in English. We then had a guessing game about famous tourist spots. 

The guessers can only ask yes-no questions. The winning strategy would be trying to narrow down the possibilities with questions like, "Is it in the north of Taiwan?", "Is it in Taipei?" "Is it a tall building?" "Is it famous for its hot springs?", and so on. 

In another Skype session, I tried to prompt my students to speak more. They shared their "A Letter to Santa" with Jessica, talking about the most wanted gift and why they deserved it. Then they proceeded to rehearse their oral report about the campus and answered some follow-up questions, too. 

Of course, there's still a lot of room for improvement in terms of either accuracy or fluency. They tend to overthink it and pay too much attention to grammar. However, I know they'll get better at it just like my previous two gifted students as long as we do this on a regular basis. 

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