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Author Topic: Encouraging EFL students to hold (and defend) a point of view?  (Read 182 times)

Calach Pfeffer

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In public, in their second language, to hold and defend a point of view. This, I'm going to say, might be a signal English language achievement. If it's true that behind the English language lies a culture of relatively confrontational disputation - direct speech, personal opinions presented publically, argument performed supposedly without rancour - then being able to have a point of view at all and furthermore to defend it in conversation surely brings a student closer to a recognisably native standard than all the same words and vocabulary used in the furtherance of some other cultural communication strategy, right?

So, as a teacher, how do you encourage reticent students to have a public point of view? What classroom activities set the right scene? I'd rather just insist that they have opinions and say them, but that's not working.
There is little in history to support the proposition that China was indeed the centre of the Asian universe commanding deference among less civilised states around its periphery...

AMonk

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Re: Encouraging EFL students to hold (and defend) a point of view?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2017, 09:42:43 AM »
I don't teach ESL, but I do have some students who HATE to speak out.  I don't mean that they can't talk, but that they have a border-line phobia about standing alone and speaking/talking. Public speaking IS one of the Top 10 Fears :wtf:

Soooo - we practice that. Often.  Presentations of work. Memorised pieces (like poetry).  Tons of ahead-of-time practice/rehearsal.  NEVER asking that student to "go first".  Sometimes having another person stand with her, so that it is a dual presentation. 
NEVER allow the audience to bully, ridicule the student. 
Supportive critiquing is OK.  Criticism is not.  Of course, this must be done for all students' attempts. agagagagag
Moderation....in most things...

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Encouraging EFL students to hold (and defend) a point of view?
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2017, 10:41:24 AM »
The problem I have over and over is how each student can form enough words (and collect barely enough breath) to speak half-hearted answers to *me* in class, but they are tremendously unwilling to make themselves heard by anyone else in the classroom. Even if I am at the front and they are at the back, they still don't want anyone in between to hear. They sometimes, if they think they can get away with it, even often seem to need minutes at a time of preparation with the students sitting next to them. Point being, nearly no one hears or can hear what they say, and no one will interact with it. Which, from my point of view, robs me of a significant engine of learning.

Anyway, it usually varies from class to class. One class will volunteer to have their teeth pulled before they'll volunteer answers, another will chat away quickly and well (albeit likely still with too little extended interaction between students).

I find however I only know how to demand such speech, not how to foster it.  bibibibibi
There is little in history to support the proposition that China was indeed the centre of the Asian universe commanding deference among less civilised states around its periphery...

old34

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Re: Encouraging EFL students to hold (and defend) a point of view?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2017, 03:55:58 AM »
Try starting near the student you are eliciting from, then as you engage them with questions, slowly move backward as they try to answer your questions. Might work.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Encouraging EFL students to hold (and defend) a point of view?
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2017, 05:14:18 AM »
I do tend naturally to walk away from speakers.... ababababab ababababab ahahahahah

Actually, most especially when it's too obvious the speaker and I and having a conversation and everyone else is being, in effect, ignored, I do stroll toward the other side of the room. It usually has an effect on at least the speaker.

I might have asked the wrong question. What I'm hoping for in class is for the class to take over the discussion. I'm there to teach them some of the tools of discussion and some of the details of one or more subject matters, but I don't think I'm there to tell them the answers to subject test questions. I'd like them to use the method I teach and the resources that is their fellow students to generate answers by themselves. Socratic method with no Socrates.

As far as I can see, the students need....

(1) some familiarity with discussion in public
(2) some familiarity with the given subject matter
(3) some confidence in their own public speaking skills

Actually, come to think on it, I wonder if they have any of those. The damnable thing is if I set small groups to work on exactly the same topics, I can expect to see in most classes, discussion, disputation, and determination of answers progressing with energy and enthusiasm. BUT IT'S ALL IN CHINESE!  So I can neither judge nor join in, and they can't get assessments.

So, just because it's me doing the teaching, something has to make all this happen in English at least as well as in Chinese.  bibibibibi
There is little in history to support the proposition that China was indeed the centre of the Asian universe commanding deference among less civilised states around its periphery...

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Encouraging EFL students to hold (and defend) a point of view?
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2017, 05:21:56 AM »
https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/encourage-student-debate-getty

Suggestions:
- Avert your gaze to encourage eye contact between students
- Early on, repeat student's statements to stimulate debate
- At all times, neither agree nor disagree with anyone
- Observe that it takes time to establish the culture
There is little in history to support the proposition that China was indeed the centre of the Asian universe commanding deference among less civilised states around its periphery...

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Encouraging EFL students to hold (and defend) a point of view?
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2017, 09:37:24 AM »
Suggestions:
- Avert your gaze to encourage eye contact between students
- Early on, repeat student's statements to stimulate debate
- At all times, neither agree nor disagree with anyone

Experience thus far suggests repeating statements is tricky. Yes, it allows claims to be heard more widely. But the debate culture isn't established yet - just airing some claim doesn't seem to be enough. It's English that's doing it. Today I saw classes fall into a proper debate pattern when they switched to Chinese. Some claim got aired, it was rebutted, some reply was made, opinions were shared - the students took over the discussion. But anything in English got addressed to me and left alone by everyone else. Something else is needed to unlock the debate achievement in English.

Meanwhile, averting one's gaze is pretty good, at least at the beginning. It does urge students to create more general addresses, not just speak to me. But, goodness, the rule that English is spoken to the teacher and no one else is extremely sticky. Averting one's gaze gets old when it's clear everyone is really, really looking to me for their confirmation.

The students don't need too much training in addressing their fellows in Chinese but they do need something to unlock the ability in English. Don't know what yet.
There is little in history to support the proposition that China was indeed the centre of the Asian universe commanding deference among less civilised states around its periphery...