Talk More! English Classes First Reviews

The students at my JHS have been reviewing our Talk More! communication classes in the little, “Ayumi” diaries that they all must write everyday. The results are good.

My JTEs tell me that after each communication class, students are writing glowing reviews in their diaries.

“Today’s class was so much fun. My heart is full!”

“I want to do a communication class every week!”

“I’m not so good at English, but with the communication class, I can have fun and improve my skills!”

This is a small sampling of over 100 mini-reviews that students have written about our communication classes.

The results are now in. Teachers love it. Students love it. I love it. We are now making plans to do communication classes once a week with 3rd and 2nd grade students, and to investigate how to start these classes with students.

If you want to change your role at work, change the way students are taught, and start inspiring students, why don’t you start some communication classes at your school? My guess is you can expect some raving reviews.

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2 Comments

  1. That’s great!

    I am a new ALT who started working in August of 2011 at the JHS level and I’d like to have more oral communication focused classes starting in April. I’ve talked to some senior high school ALTs around me and found out about “AAA: Ask, Answer, Add” as a way to introduce conversation practice to the students and was thinking of using this at my school as well.
    Could you tell me a little about the kinds of activities or practice you do in your Talk More! communication classes? From what you’ve said they seem to be rater popular with your students.

    • It’s the first time I’ve heard of the “AAA” System. It sounds great, especially because it is easy to remember and understand. We only have about 2 more Talk More Comm. classes for each class this year, but I’d like to introduce it to the students before the year ends. Thanks for sharing!

      That’s exciting you are here in Japan and interested in starting a communication revolution as well. How do you like teaching here so far?

      “Talk More” came from the realization that we couldn’t have meaningful conversations with students because we never really asked them to be involved in the conversation or contribute. They never really “added” anything to the conversation to put it in the framework of the “AAA” system you mentioned, so the conversation always seemed to die. It’s because in the normal English class conversation is always one-way: teacher asks questions, students answer. We couldn’t technically blame them for their poor response. So we wanted to develop a class where we could teach them these things and get them to actually practice using and speaking English.

      So our communication classes are centered around 3 goals:

      1) To learn to enjoy speaking and using English
      2) To learn useful communication strategies for applying and reinforcing what they learn
      3) To learn about communication etiquette so they can be cooler, more polite English speakers

      To do this we have created classes and materials where the whole purpose of the class is for them to have conversations with their friends and to study the art of communication. Instead of 40 minutes of lesson and 10 minutes of practice, we’ve tried to turn that on it’s head, with 10 minutes of introduction and instructions and 40 minutes of preparation and speaking. The whole goal is communication.

      To do this, we pick a theme for each class based on 1 or 2 questions that are used in many conversations. (For example, “have you ever been to Tokyo?” or “What’s your favorite sport?”) Then we use worksheets and other materials to break the task of communication into small, manageable parts so that any student can enjoy communication. And we try to get students talking and exchanging ideas from the start because we’ve learned that communication is the most interesting thing for students — better than any game, and certainly better than any lecture about English grammar.

      Throughout the class, we sprinkle in some demonstrations and advice to introduce important learning points for students.

      In other words, we create a safe and real place for communication to occur, prepare students, then give them a big chance to talk. Then we give advice and help them “Talk More!” Hence the name.

      I hope this gives you a good snapshot of our program. The revolution is still beginning at my school (we’re about 3 months into it with full, once-a-week communication classes for all 2nd and 3rd year students). The theory and materials are set but we are now tasked with the job of trying to explain it.

      I’m excited you’ve started to get the ball rolling yourself. Please sign up for our email list or send me a link to your website so we can stay connected and spread the ideas and knowledge to other teachers. This is one website I know that is talking about these ideas, so please join and keep the comments, questions and ideas coming!!

      Elliott

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