Short and sweet
How to get large classes talking
Over the last 7 years of working in Thailand, I've seen numerous teaching forum threads about how to get large classes talking.
Up until this new school year, I'd always skipped most of these types of posts because I taught general English to P1 to 4, and there was little room for T to S and S to T interaction, let alone S to S.
I jumped at the opportunity to teach conversational English to M2 at a school that has an excellent reputation for teaching grammar. It works like this: highly competent Thai teachers take the students through the black and white components of grammar and experienced native English speaking teachers handle the conversational elements.
Everyone has their style, so I decided to maintain mine. It didn't need to be changed: keep it simple and keep it fun.
And the following appeared at the very beginning of the lesson plans that I was asked to submit:
To make my lessons fun and for students to enjoy learning with me.
To simplify conversational English in order for students to become more competent speakers.
For students to achieve higher test/exam results.
For students to attend their university of choice.
Hardly the stuff of rocket science, I think you'll agree. But you've got to have a clear purpose otherwise you may find yourself wandering off course.
"Get on with it, man! How do you get large classes to talk?" I hear you shout.
Play an energy burning game to get their brains working in English.
Model simple Q&A conversations on the board. Open and/or closed questions.
Practice the conversations using the traditional T to S and S to T route.
Have students copy the dialogue into their notebooks, preferably with doodles to enhance memory/recall.
And then have them stand up and practice the conversation with at least five other students. Mingle with the more advanced students when you begin this approach and then branch out to slower and less confident students.
There you go. I've said it. And all and in just the space of one A4 page!