Friday, December 23, 2011

Break Time!

While I was reading English Teaching  Professional, I came across with the following tip.I foud it intersting.It may be useful one day !!      

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This tip may be useful for those teaching for the FCE, CAE and IELTS exams. When it comes to pronunciation, many teachers find that trying to reduce heavy interference from the students’ L1 can be a fruitless task – especially after they reach upper-intermediate level. You certainly can’t change this overnight and, in the context of teaching exam courses, pronunciation is often ignored in place of more systematic learner training related to exam techniques and tactics. Because of this, I suggest work on the suprasegmental level of the speech act, rather than trying to change the already formed habits of the students’ speech patterns. One technique that I use is ‘silent conversation’.
The students work together in pairs and I give one student in each pair a handout with typical FCE Part One questions, such as
How long have you been studying English? Tell me about your family, etc. I tell them that they must ask their partners these questions without uttering a sound, ie they must mouth the words. The partners must also reply in silence to each question that they think their partner has asked. They can then swap roles. I encourage those students who start writing things down to really focus on the mouth of the ‘speaker’. We then have a feedback session, and I ask the students to comment on how successfully they conveyed their questions and answers.
The feedback generally highlights problem words for individual students, eg Spanish-speaking students often fail to form the final consonant sounds. This technique even picks up on whether a student is using a strong form rather than a weak form of
have. This makes it an extremely expedient and personalised way of teaching pronunciation. It also allows a lot of self-reflection and peer-teaching and introduces the notion of non-verbal communication as exasperated students, unable to speak, rely on non-verbal aids to get their messages across. These are all useful and transferable skills for the exam and beyond, and the technique provides a great introduction to aspects of exam teaching that are (relatively) easy to address.

Martin Warters
Hove, UK

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