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  • Dobs21
  • Waygookin

    • 21

    • November 18, 2010, 12:30:37 pm
    • Seoul
Free Talking??
« on: March 27, 2011, 04:12:22 pm »

I am taking a conversation class this semester and have been told that it is supposed to be a 'free talking' class. Speaking with the students during the first class, the phrase 'free talking' came up a few times when I was asking them about their expectations for the class.

I wondered if anyone has any experience running free talking classes with students. I have 16 students in the class and so far only a couple want to answer questions I ask in any length. Last week I had a backup topic prepared, which was school and we did a debate about school uniform. This actaully went quite well, but it was preceeded by 30 minutes or so of me trying and failing to achieve 'free talking' with my class.

Does anyone have any tips? Is free talking just a case of asking them what they want to talk about and letting the students take control  of the discussion? Or should the teacher provide more structure?

Thanks for any help.

Re: Free Talking??
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2011, 04:33:48 pm »
Free-talking, to me, means having no plan in a classroom, which is chaos waiting to happen. 

A few times, while teaching in an elem. school, we had open classes.  In order to prepare for this, the Korean CoTs decided to teach the same lesson prior to the actual date.  For this class, the K CoTs planned the entire lesson, and I had no input on it whatsoever.  While in this class, we finished all the points, and with 10-15m to go, they said "Now it's free-talking time with Teacher Robert!".  I had no problem with this, because I can talk hours with a rock, but it did mean that there was no extension activity/plan.

Have more debates, drama or a story-telling class.  Do anything you want, but for your own sanity and the time of the students, don't rely on "free-talking".  This will just turn into "free-watching the paint dry".
You get what you give :)

  • nancy
  • Veteran

    • 127

    • August 28, 2009, 04:37:54 pm
    • Hwasan
Re: Free Talking??
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2011, 07:29:37 am »
I have free talking with a group of high school kids every at lunch. In the beginning we usually played a short game ( we only spend about 25 minutes together). I would provide bizarre photos from the internet and then asked them what they did on Sunday. Looking at the photo they would make up a scenario and tell the group a short story. We could then ask them questions. My students are reasonably conversant but perhaps for lower levels you could just have them come up with words or phrases to describe the scene. I also made with the picture of someone famous that they had to guess by asking questions (like Headbandz). My numbers are fairly small between 8 - 12 so it usually gives everyone  a chance to speak. With certain groups, they are happy to choose a subject for discussion such as plastic surgery, movies, travel and even prom. In these cases I act as moderator and ask questions to keep the conversation going. Hope this helps......

Re: Free Talking??
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2011, 08:08:26 am »
When you do a 'free speaking activity' at the end of a speaking lesson it's not about anything and everything, but rather to give students the opportunity to practice what they've been learning in a free (rather than controlled) manner. 
With that in mind, I'd prob do some prep with the kids for a short time (vocab/function/grammar) before launching into the free speaking part.  Depending how long the class is, about 10 mins vocab activities/brainstorming/matching pics&words/quick quiz etc. to give the students the 'blocks' they'll need for the free speaking.  Then open the floor for them to talk. 
Without some type of structure I agree with the previous poster=chaos! 
Also, usually at the end of something like this you'd briefly point out some mistakes that the students made, and see if they can correct themselves after the fact.

Good luck!

Re: Free Talking??
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2011, 09:52:26 am »
I have a similar class with my students too. Kids need some time to get comfortable with you, and then to answer your questions (with more than 1 word answers), and finally, to actually say something that may start a debate. It's only been a few classes for me, and I'm taking it easy with them. I have a topic every week, so I show it to them on ppt. I explain it, and I ask them to take some notes. Once they understand it, then I start asking questions. Start with the obvious questions where they just identify what they see (give them a chance to build confidence), and then start asking more discussion-oriented questions.

For example, this week I'm going to show kids a piece of abstract art. I'm going to ask them what they see (what images can you see in the picture?), and then, what they think about it (is it good? is it bad?) Have a show of hands for who thinks it's good/bad, and then have a small debate. After that, I'm going to tell them who the artist is, and we'll learn a little about him, and then I'll ask them to talk about abstract art in general. 

Re: Free Talking??
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2011, 10:05:49 am »
would a science teacher expect children to know how to run experiemts in the classroom?
i don't think these students really know what they want

i dont think you should have a 'free talking' class.  its basically a license to be a huge slacker for everyone involved.  i think that will be really unfulfilling, if not painful to 'teach'.

maybe you can continute to call it a free talking class, but having more structure will make it a lot easier for you, even if it does take more time to plan.

i recommend this book

good luck