Communicative Activities and Interaction to Support Adult English Language Learning

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1 Communicative Activities and Interaction to Support Adult English Language Learning Amber Gallup Rodriguez Montana Adult ESOL Conference May 20, 2010

2 Presentation Overview You will be able to: Identify and use basic principles of second language acquisition to design communicative activities. Describe the components of the Communicative Approach. Incorporate aspects of the Communicative Approach when preparing lessons and interactive speaking and listening activities. Create and use activities that foster interaction and communication in the adult ESL classroom. 1

3 Think-Pair-Share 1. Think of a student you work with who has problems communicating in English. What kinds of classroom instruction do you think would help this student communicate better in English? 2. Share your thoughts with a partner. 2

4 Some Basic Principles about Language Learning Learners need many opportunities to hear meaningful language ( comprehensible input ). Learners need many opportunities to practice the language in a specific context ( pushed output ). Communicative language looks at meaning (what we want to say) and form (how we say it), with a primary focus on meaning.

5 Some Basic Principles about Language Learning Interaction is communication between individuals, particularly when they are negotiating meaning in order to prevent a breakdown in communication. (Ellis, 1999) Research supports the idea that interaction helps language development. 4

6 Some Basic Principles about Language Learning As they negotiate meaning, learners have the opportunity to notice the gap between the language they are using and more correct, or target-like speech (or at least speech that is understood!) What learners notice or focus on can lead to changes in their interlanguage system. Classroom activities should be built primarily on creating opportunities for student to express and understand meaningful language. However, formfocused instructions and corrective feedback are also essential for learners continued growth and development.

7 What is the Communicative Approach? 1. An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language 2. The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation 3. The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on language, but also on the learning process itself 4. An enhancement of the learner s own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom learning 5. An attempt to link classroom language learning with language activation outside the classroom Nunan, D. (1991). Communicative tasks and the language curriculum. TESOL Quarterly 25(2),

8 Communicative Lesson Planning 1. Warm-up 2. Presentation of new information 3. Controlled and semi-controlled practice activities 4. Communicative practice activities 5. Application and extension activities 6. Evaluation and assessment GUIDED PRACTICE through SCAFFOLDING

9 Controlled Activities Focus on form and accuracy of grammar structure or language function prior to more communicative practice Exercises that limit the students attention to the target structure or function Exercises are meaningful and realistic (not isolated, unconnected practice sentences). E.g., Teacher asks questions using the target structure that have a correct answer. Students complete sentences with the correct target structure. Students identify a target structure in a dialogue. Students list and repeat the target structure through drills.

10 Controlled Practice (All-Star 1, 2005) 9

11 10 Controlled Practice (Express Ways 1, 1996)

12 Semi-Controlled Activities Move away from focus on form and accuracy to focus on meaning and communication Model realistic tasks and realistic language use (i.e. this is what native speakers would do and say) and provide unifying context Exchange of personal information if possible Students are given ½ a dialogue and are asked to produce the other half using cues provided. Students assemble a story by putting the sequence of events in order. Teacher asks open-ended questions using target structure.

13 Semi-Controlled Practice (ExpressWays 1, 1996) 12

14 Communicative Activities Careful preparation required in the design of the activity and in the presentation of activity to students New structure or function is integral part of the activity, but should not be the focus Often some type of speaking/listening activity with genuine information exchange Students create a product based on information that has been shared. Students engage in cooperatively solving a problem. Students freely act out roles and situations after being given initial cues, usually based on real life actions and experiences.

15 Communicative Practice (ExpressWays 1, 1996) 14

16 Hot Seat Activity Cycle: Thursday 1. A content topic and/or grammar focus for Hot Seat is proposed and selected. 2. Hot Seat student volunteer: Sits in a chair at the front of the class; establishes how the Q&A will be conducted; facilitates Q&A 3. Other students: Pose targeted questions, one by one, to the Hot Seat volunteer; listen to others questions to avoid repeating; monitor for appropriate questions; help others 4. Teacher: Sits in back of room and writes down student names and questions they ask. Conducts quick listening comprehension check at the end of activity, using questions just asked, modeling 3 rd person singular 15

17 Hot Seat Activity Cycle: Follow-up 5. Teacher types up student questions in correct forms over the weekend. Monday (next class) 6. Teacher: Distributes typed Hot Seat questions; reviews questions, question types, vocabulary, etc.; has student number off or otherwise divide into two lines; monitors and/or participates in line dialogue 7. All students: Divide into two lines for line dialogue; practice asking and answering questions twice; practice asking follow-up questions; update question collections and note progress/goals 16

18 Hot Seat Questions 17

19 Communicative Activities Toolbox Surveys Information gaps Pictures Conversation grids 18

20 Whole Class Activities Set the right tone and cohesive mood for a class Exposure to and modeling of different types of language Share cultural information and experiences interesting to all Opportunity for students to get to know each other s backgrounds, strengths, interests Demands on lower level students are reduced, but everyone is still engaged and challenged 19

21 Group Work: A Key to Multilevel Classes More speaking practice, especially for lesson confident students Can appeal to different interests and learning styles everyone can have a role. Can work with authentic materials. 20

22 Guidelines for Grouping Multilevel Classes Generally, smaller is better (between 3-7) Develop accuracy equal ability groups Develop fluency cross ability groups Set up the group so that every member must give input. 21

23 For More Information: Practitioner Toolkit: Working with Adult English Language Learners pment/prac_toolkit.html Facilitating Adult Learner Interactions to Build Listening and Speaking Skills itating.html 22

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