Methods to motivate Chinese students to speak English in class as their foreign teacher

Editor:at0086 |

It is very important for the teachers to adopt as many ways as possible to let students to practise English in class. I believe the success of this teaching strategy is due mainly to the fact that the learners can choose what they want to read, listen to, watch, and talk about in class. I try the following ways to do the practice.


1. Free talk: First I try to choose those topics that have something to do with their interest and experience and also choose those subjects that students understand that there is no "right" answer, and the teacher is not judging their ideas, such as holidays, nature, ads, environment and pollution. Sometimes let students have complete freedom to choose the topics whatever they want to talk about. In their learning logs, students keep a record of what they have read and what they have listened to. They usually like to talk about such topics as movie stars, songs, music, magazines, sports and travel.


2. Retelling: Ask students to retell a story they have read, listened and watched.


3. Role playing: Ask students to practise situational dialogues by doing role plays, such as in the medical clinic, at the station, at the post office, in the restaurant and in the shop.


4. Debating: First try to choose some debatable topics such as who is more cleverer? boys or girls? Is the computer game useful or harmful for the students? Then I let them discuss in pairs for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of discussion in pairs, I divide the class into two groups; each representing their own real belief. Finally I let each group debate the other. I act as a guide to help the debate along and nudge some of the silent students to talk. Almost all the students take part and the class is lively and active.


5. Storytelling: I ask students to tell stories with right intonation and pronunciation and gesture and expressions. I also ask students to invent improvised stories by being provided with situation and characters. Students can get a lot of fun from it.


6. Talking according to the picture: Show students some cartoon pictures, or humorous pictures. Let them talk freely.


7. Short play: I find that students enjoy short plays because students understand that the atmosphere is cooperative -- students helping each other understand the main points of the reading. I asked my students to make a short play about the text we have learned if possible.


8. Speech contest: Choose a topic to have a speech contest in class. I also let the students be a judge to give marks to the speakers.


9. Description: Ask students to describe to a certain thing or event. For instance, give your opinion on appearance after the teacher makes up and changes her clothes. Another example: find my friend. One student describes his/her friend and let the class guess who he/she is.


10. Acting and speaking: Let one student act as a certain profession, for instance a doctor examining a patient. The other student talks about the acts.


11. Speaking and acting: One person tells an act and the others should act as soon as possible, such as, touching your nose, running and asking his name.


12. Speaking and drawing: Let one student give some description and ask other students to draw what the student say, such as, the location of a place and a plan of a school.


13. Watching and speaking: 1) Let students to watch parts of cartoon film or some acts of TV play without any sound and voice and ask some of them to guess the meaning and talk about it. 2) Let one or two students watch and talk about only pictures of film or TV play without any sound. The other students imagine the scene by listening to the students' talking with their backs facing the TV set and then let them watch the program to compare.


14. Acting as an interpreter: Let one student act an interpreter and one as a foreigner and some students as local citizens. They communicate through interpretation, like shopping and sightseeing.


15. Problem solving: Give students some topic with some key words and ask them to solve a certain problem. For example, if you have these tools: a compass, a knife and a tin, how can you survive in the forest for a week?


16. Games: Students love games. I try to choose these games to have students practise.

    a) Twenty questions: One student has a word or some expressions in his mind. Other students guess the word by asking only general questions and alternative questions. The student answers them only with "yes" or " no". If the students can guess the word or the expression in less than twenty questions, they win, otherwise they lose.

            b) Taboo word description: One student thinks of a certain word in his mind and describe it without mention some words which have something to do with the word. For example, the word "book", you cannot mention the words: book, letter and paper. Another student acts as a judge. Other students listen. If the student mentions those taboo words, he will lose.


            c) Listen and guess: One student writes a word or a sentence or a job on the blackboard and the other student describes it with gestures but without mentioning the word itself. Other students sit without facing the blackboard and guess the word by the student's description.


            d) Repeat and add: First, one student says a sentence of an improvised story. The next student repeats the sentence and adds another one. Then next student repeats the sentences and adds one more sentence. This will go on and see who will repeat without missing the sentences they have said. Finally this will make a funny story. The student who can say the story fully will win.


            e) Speaking and guessing: First choose four students to come to the front or in the middle of the circle with their hands over their ears to prevent them from hearing anything and then show other students an expression or a sentence without letting the four students see it. Finally the students try to tell the four students the meaning of the word or expression that they saw with gestures. The student who guesses right or close right will win.


            f) Right or wrong: First ask 4 students to come to the front and other students ask them some alternative questions or tag questions concerning knowledge, such as, geography, history,music and arts, then the four students try to answer them. The student who answer the biggest number of the questions correctly will win.


          Teachers should invent more ways to let students practise. This will arouse their interest to speak and help them more easily to master this skill.

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