Thursday, 15 November 2007

A true communicative activity

Record a group of students performing a communicative activity. Listen to the recording and try to decide on the following:

(a) To what extent does the activity encourage or oblige participation from all of the students? The activity is connected to student's experiences so they both (because it was pair work) were involved in the activity. First St A asks St B and then St B asks St A so they equally participate and are encouraged to do so (information gap)

(b) What examples can you find of conversational adjustments as students try to negotiate meaning, for example, asking for and giving clarification, repetition, further explanation through paraphrasing? One of the students needed to know what "waste" meant and the other student explained to the first one that it meant "throwing the money" and then as Student A kept on asking, Student B told her it meant "desperdiciar"= students negotiated meaning by paraphrasing and then resorting to their mother tongue.

Students also tried to find the right word for "Shop which sells CDs" = they came up with different names such as "record shop", and "musical store" and in the end they could understand each other.

(c) What examples can you find of students correcting each other? "Disparó" (St A) = "shot" (St B)

(d) How would you comment on the general level of accuracy in the students' language? As it was a fluency-oriented activity, the level of accuracy was not so accurate. Students were involved in getting across their message, not that much on accuracy. E.g: "I've wast my money on trainers because I bought it to go to the gym and I never went to the gym". Another example: Have you ever lose a credit card or a wallet? I've losted my wallet on the bus.

(e) If the activity had a focus on some area of grammar or use of vocabulary, to what extent did this appear in the students' language? cStudents were practicing "Present Perfect" with "have you ever..." and contrasting it with Simple Past. Students almost never resorted to their mother tongue. They resorted to L1 when they didn't know a word, for example "disparar", however, Student B said "shot". This grammar appears in students' every day life, maybe Present Perfect not that much (here in Buenos Aires) but Simple Past is used worldwide. Finally:Have you ever been robbed? Yes, in the shop of my father. Five years ago and I working there with my father, he had a shop of CDs. He taked the cash and they pointed with the gun... and "disparó".

Anyway, this activity, as I said, was aimed at fluency (or at least when the girl started telling the story when she was robbed) and the message was more important than accuracy.

When you have considered these points, decide whether you think it was an activity worth doing, and why. Would you change anything in a re-run of it? I think the activity was worth doing because it was a real communication activity and students were engaged in it because they had to tell each other about their experiences. If I were to do the activity again I would let them speak and then correct some mistakes that I would jot down while they are working so as to check them later on (deferred correction).

Let's see if you agree or not. You are welcomed to comment on anything you want to. See you,



HEDGE, Tricia (2000), Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom, UK, OUP; Chapter 8 "Speaking" (Discussion Topics and Projects # 8- p. 295)

Recording made by Alejandro J. and Paula V. students of intermediate level. Teacher: Gladys Baya (thank you)


Gladys Baya said...

What an interesting analysis, Lorena! Has helped me gain much insight into my own teaching practice, and my students' learning! :-D

I'd like to keep discussing two of your answers:
Question d: I understand what you mean is that accuracy was expected to be lower than when carrying out an accuracy-oriented activity. But bearing that in mind, how would you evaluate the speaker's accuracy for the task analysed? In other words, if you were to give them feedback, what would you say about their accuracy?

Question e: you've correctly identified the area of grammar focussed on. As regards lexis, let me tell you the activity aimed at "Money" as a lexical set... How much of the language the participants produced was related to these aims (thus indicating the activity effectively led them to focus on those areas)?

If I were to try the activity again, I'd set a stricter time limit (half the time of the recording, I'd say). I believe in that way we'd be able to exploit language in the task better, thus highlighting the learning value of the task...

Finally, here you can find my attempt to give students' feedback. I emailed this document to them, and asked them to write back to me, but with no results! If I were to do it again, I think I'd devote some time in clas for the whole group to work on the feedback (I'd play the recording for them, and discuss possible answers). Anyway, this was the first time I'd recorded students' interacting, and I noticed that already positively influenced their learning (encouraging self-monitoring of their production).


Loreley said...

Thank you. You loved my analysis and I loved the feedback you sent to your students. It has given me ideas for my future teaching activities.
As regards their accuracy, I would tell them that they need to polish some things, just the way you took some examples of sentences they said wrong and ask them to correct them or explain why they were wrong.
Students focused on the lexical set (money) because they used lots of expressions such as rob, waste money, spend money, win the lottery.
I would also set a time limit, as you suggested. The good thing is that I have "experienced" this recording, so I can do what you did and also take into account your suggestions :p
Thanks for everything, see you tomorrow

Gladys Baya said...

Thanks for your positive feedback, Lorena! If you ever try the enhanced version of this activity, please post back and let me know how it went!


All the best,