November 25

Right or wrong? Neither, actually.

I think one of the most important roles of a teacher is to give students confidence and we all know there are some who need it more than others.  Lots of students are shy, even when they’ve been with the same classmates for years and we need to encourage them to speak up and voice their opinions which are just as valid as those shouted out by the more boisterous students.
One of the main reasons for a student’s lack of confidence is the fear of being incorrect and the reaction of their teacher and classmates when that happens.  Although I doubt any teacher would severely punish a student for getting an answer wrong, that is the worst-case scenario which some imagine happening in their English class.
So, a great way to encourage students to speak up is to include activities for which there are no right or wrong answers.  Some I’ve already mentioned in my blog before : The Dog, My Ideal Pizza, A Faceless Stickman.Jane Arnold, a professor of ELT methodology at the University of Sevilla, is a great fan of introducing mental imagery into the classroom and this gives students the opportunity to voice their own opinions and ideas.

In one activity, she takes an interesting picture of a person and asks students to think of what questions they would like to ask him / her.  When they have thought of some questions, she invites a student to the front to be the voice.  I would suggest asking for a volunteer the first time you do it, giving lots of praise for their answers and encouraging them to be creative and express themselves.  Then in another class, ask one of the quieter students to the front.
Picture from media.tumblr.com

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Posted November 25, 2009 by Teresa Bestwick in category Speaking

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