PROPOSAL: A CONVERSATION CONTEST for Non-English Language Immersion Programs


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.[1]

 

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)[2] as possible during

the period.

 

 

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

live?

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.

 

 

NOTES:

 

 

[1] Stoda, Kevin.  An Aggressive “AET MONEY CONTEST””: Ask me three Questions, please! The Language Teacher, 18:7, July 1994.

 

[2] That is, a signed ESD or dollar.

 

[3] 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.

 

 

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About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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One Response to PROPOSAL: A CONVERSATION CONTEST for Non-English Language Immersion Programs

  1. eslkevin says:

    NOTES FROM A CLASS AND SPEECH–more tips from a language learner with an attitude

    by Kevin Stoda, in Taiwan

    “Learners of English should listen to each sentence in conversations in audio several times and see their transcripts at the same time. Then they can understand everything in those sentences clearly.”—Michael, a language learner and teacher

    I saw the quote above on a BBC Blog for language learners.

    http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/i-wanna-talk-about/learning-languages

    I then created this activity for a the listening link from that weblink.

    http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/i-wanna-talk-about/learning-languages

    The audio link allows one to play as often as needed the 3 or so minute long speech of one foreign language learner from Europe. At the bottom of the link is a space for comments by listeners of the BBC language learning site. (You and your learners of English are encouraged to sign up for this free BBC service at: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/ ).

    I assigned the following assignment to my 9th grade English language learners here in Taiwan. Here it is.

    9th Grade

    “Learners of English should listen to each sentence in conversations in audio several times and see their transcripts at the same time. Then they can understand everything in those sentences clearly.”—Michael, a language learner and teacher

    As you read and listen to the 3 minute talk on learning many languages, try and answer these questions.

    PRE-LISTENING

    (1) What countries and places has the speaker been to?

    (2) How many languages has he learned?

    (3) What are some of the languages he has learned?

    (4) How does he prefer to learn languages?

    (5) What other ways does he suggest for learning languages?

    http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/i-wanna-talk-about/learning-languages

    I wanna talk about learning languages. I’ve lived in many different countries, both in Western Europe, Middle East, and now here in Hong Kong. And during all of that time, I’ve learned five or six different languages, to one degree or another. I love learning languages, not only are they important when you move to a country, I just find them fascinating.

    Before I came to Hong Kong, I lived in Barcelona Spain for ten years. And when I first arrived, the most important thing was being able to communicate with people locally. I don’t attend classes. I don’t think I’m particularly good in classes. I prefer to learn by just talking to people, finding out what I need to say by looking at dictionaries and listening carefully.

    Other things that helped me when I first moved to Spain, were watching the typical kinds of programs we see everyday on channels around the world. For example the weather. This is great, because they always say the same things. So you can really quickly hear the same words repeated again and again. And the pictures helped of course.

    Other types of program that helped me learned Spanish quickly were things like game shows, where the same thing happens. They have a catchphrase or a slogan that they repeat endlessly when contestants win or when they are called to compete.

    As well as that, I used to pick up the Spanish newspapers. First of all, I just accepted that there was no way I was going to understand anything but one or two words. But gradually, I found that I learned lots of new things about this. I was interested because I wanted to know what was happening in the country I lived in. But, I also knew that I could learn a lot of language this way. So I’d take a dictionary with me sometimes, or I’d notice a word and I’d ask other people what …it meant.

    Anyway, by far the best practice I ever had was just talking to people in the street, or in shops where I’d rehearse in my head what I wanted to say beforehand, before I went in. Usually, I’d make a right mess of it first of all, but, after you get over the embarrassment, it’s quite funny really. And people are very sympathetic and supporting in most cases.

    It took me a long time to develop a good level of Spanish. I lived there for ten years, and I think I’m very fluent now. But I think for the first two years I was there, it was quite a struggle to hold a decent conversation. There were always lots of words or expressions that I didn’t pick up on. In particular with the colloquial expressions, idioms, that kind of thing, that people use in everyday talk, but you don’t necessarily see written down. I didn’t find those very easy to learn at all. But it was a lot of fun. And people as I said are really supporting when they know that you are genuinely interested in learning their language.

    Discussion

    (1) Do you find it easier to learn English in a classroom setting or by forcing yourself to read English newspapers, books, textbooks, and / or watching English TV?

    (2) What is the most effective language learning method for you?

    Log in and send us your own texts or your opinions and comments below.

    LATER–FOR 8TH AND 9TH GRADERS

    Next, I created a similar exercise and speech format, which I have used in my 7th and 8th grade classes here in Taiwan.

    Here it is:

    7th Grade Listening Review Name_______________

    As you read and listen to the 3 minute talk on learning languages, try and answer these questions.

    PRE-LISTENING Questions

    (1) What countries and places has the speaker been to?

    (2) How many languages has he learned?

    (3) What are some of the languages he has learned?

    (4) How does he prefer to learn languages?

    (5) What other ways does he suggest for learning languages?

    KEVIN’S FIRST DAY OF CLASS AT CHUNG SHAN JUNIOR HIGH*

    “It’s really nice to meet you today. I am a 48 year-old English, German and Spanish teacher. Over the years, I have traveled to many countries. I have also tried to learn many languages. When I was young, I traveled to Mexico for the first time. Later, in college I studied Spanish. Before I finished college, I took one year to work in Europe. I lived in France and later in Germany. In Europe I learned German. In both countries I did not study languages but worked on farms and lived with French and German farm families.”

    “My last year at college, I took time to study German for two semesters. Two years later, I traveled to Germany to study at university in northern Germany. I lived in Germany for three years and began to teach English there, too. During my time at the German university, I also studied Spanish and a little French.”

    “How did I learn foreign languages? Well, I do enjoy learning languages most by talking and listening to the language.”

    “Mostly, I learnt German by speaking and practicing the language with real speakers of German. I also bought a German-learning textbook and reread it many times while I was in Europe that first year. At German university, I also visited a lot of German language classes while I lived in Germany. More importantly, I began to read German short-stories. Next, I read several books, and I took German literature and history classes, too.”

    “But, I learnt Spanish originally by taking university classes in Spanish—first in America and then in Spain, Mexico, and even Germany.”

    “Between 1992 and 1994, I lived in Japan. I taught English in three Japanese high schools—like I teach in three schools here on Beigan Island now. I did not study Japanese before going to Japan, but I tried to learn some Japanese words before I arrived in Japan. I found it difficult to learn Japanese, but I had more help learning Japanese than I did in some other countries I have worked in. One cram-school teacher tutored me in Japanese for almost two whole years. Other teachers at my three schools taught me important Japanese words and phrases for conversation.”

    “Finally, when I returned to the USA in 1994-1995, I again took two semesters of Japanese at the University of Kansas. So, now I can speak intermediate Japanese but do not read and write at that level.”

    “A lot of you may think it is easier to go to other countries to learn a foreign language, but I think that studying is still important. Now, in Taiwan, I hope you and your friends can help me learn Chinese. Thank you. ”

    Discussion

    (1) Do you find it easier to learn English in a classroom setting or by forcing yourself to read English newspapers, books, textbooks, –or by watching English TV?

    (2) What is the most effective language learning method for you?

    http://eslkevin.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/language-teaching-learning-notes-from-a-class-and-speech/

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