PROPOSAL: A CONVERSATION CONTEST for Non-English Language Immersion Programs
For the last few months I have been encouraging the institution of ” Conversation Contests” in various public schools in Taiwan.
Please look at the proposal below for some elementary schools. However, the framework or procedure can be used at all grade levels. I suggest it here for usage by foreign language teachers around the world. Internationally born and raised teachers can promote and facilitate in carrying out the contests. (By internationally born and raised, I mean usually-but-not exclusively native speakers. Nonetheless, fluent speakers of any language involved in any similar contest are likely to be quite helpful to the contests promotion and success at any school.)
The design for such a “conversation contest” was developed by me in Japanese rural high schools in the early 1990s—after I had seen similar contests at one-day-long German Language Days in Kansas a year or so earlier.
PROPOSAL: A CONVERSATION CONTEST
Also called a “conversation” or “ASK ME 3 QUESTIONS PLEASE” contest.
By Kevin Stoda
I have indicated before that a conversation contest might be appropriate for encouraging our students to use a variety of English communication techniques—not just in the classroom but especially outside of the classroom.
Let me explain how this type of Conversation contest works:
Time Period: usually 2 month period is the best length of time,
but one-month or three month contests are possible
Students Levels: students from each grade 1 through 6 could participate and
prizes could be given (or earned) at each grade level
Objective : Students will try to collect as many signed
English Speaking Dollars (ESDs) as possible during
Procedure for Earning ESDs:
Students must both (a) ask and (b) answer at least 3 different questions each time in order to earn an ESD. In the past, I have usually had a picture of myself on these contest dollars—but any handmade or fake bill will do.
Each ESD (dollar) must receive the signature of the teacher or the person giving the (ESD) dollar.
When asked, the student must truthfully tell how many ESDs (dollars) or how much money have been earned.
Students should not earn and give dollars (ESDs) to others.
Here is an example dialogue of a student earning a dollar.
Student A: Please, can/may I ask you some questions?
Teacher Q: Sure.
Student A: Where are you from?
Teacher Q: I am from Texas/Taipei/the Philippines/the UK . Where do you
Student A: I live in Tang Qi. How many people are in your family?
Teacher Q: I have one older brother and two younger sisters. My mother and
father are still alive, too. How many are in your family?
Student A: We are four. I have one smaller brother, my mommy, and
dad. Where do you live now?
Teacher Q: I live in Ban Li. Where does your little brother live?
Student A: He lives in Tang Qi with me. May I have an English
Speaking (Dollar) money now?
Teacher Q: Of course, but I have one more question. How many English
(Speaking) Dollars do you have now?
Students A: I have two. (Please sign.)
Teacher Q: Good. Let me sign this. Here you are.
Student A: Thanks.
 Stoda, Kevin. An Aggressive “AET MONEY CONTEST”": Ask me three Questions, please! The Language Teacher, 18:7, July 1994.
 That is, a signed ESD or dollar.
 In preparation for the contest, we English teachers will identify a set of questions or types of questions that students should work on at each grade level. (However, students can certainly create or memorize other new phrases and questions for holding a conversation.)
Contest seeks to improve listening, speaking and memorization of conversation questions, answers-to-questions, vocabulary, phrases, and techniques of communicating.
Normally, class time will not be used for earning dollars. Dollars must be earned between classes, before school and after school. If any participating teacher is too busy, students will be asked not to ask questions to earn money.
I would like to discuss proposals for prizes with you and the office managers.