I was planning on trying out this conversation / reading / vocabulary class from Nicola Prentis’ blog (https://simpleenglishuk.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/reverse-reading-a-quick-approach-to-prepping-conversation-classes/) recently. Had it all planned and ready with nice little text about a project to build a massive casino on Phu Quoc island (Vietnam).
But after eliciting Phu Quoc from the students, conversation started naturally. It was a good topic that provoked instant discussion and interest. So wanting to make the most of this I scrapped the predetermined questions / text / vocabulary and for some reason thought of bingo.
Here’s the procedure:
- Students draw a 3×3 bingo grid and write words about the topic in question, in this case the tropical island of Phu Quoc.
- Someone starts by calling out a word on their grid and crossing it off. If any other students have the same word they can also cross it off.
- Each word should provoke some comments, reactions, clarification requests or questions from around the room (I was surprised at how much conversation was started by each word).
- Allow the conversations to run and input vocabulary and structures when appropriate. Encourage students to make notes.
- After each conversation has died down, the next student calls a word from their bingo grid and the process continues.
It was a full-on conversation class! Loads of new language and chances to build little vocab sets around types of seafood, adjectives to describe landscape and other little vocab exploration activities that I missed because it’s hard to divert the conversation without completely derailing it for teaching purposes.
It’s really simple, zero planning and all about speaking and inputting language ‘at the point of need.’
Things to think about:
How to exploit language that comes up, beyond just providing it at that moment that it’s needed? What little language games, vocab activities, little drills can be done that briefly divert the conversation but don’t totally hijack it. Or maybe this kind of more studious look at language should be done afterwards.
- The language is needed in the moment, so give it and students use it.
- THEN, afterwards, they can play around with, explore it, categorise it and “study” it.
- That’s how to fill the second hour.
- Better try it out again.
- Better think of some versatile teaching techniques for the second hour.