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Re: English Speaking Club for Russian Philosphers;)

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  • sohrabkhanus
    Hi Alina, In your case, much similar to any language learning situation, students find it difficult to carry out communicative tasks with minimum language they
    Message 1 of 10 , Jan 27, 2013
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      Hi Alina,

      In your case, much similar to any language learning situation, students find it difficult to carry out communicative tasks with minimum language they possess. However, we as language teachers, can help our students overcome this problem in a number of ways. The first thing to make sure is that the tasks we ask our students to perform do match with their linguistic competence. Secondly, students who are not familiar with speaking spontaneously, need appropriate vocabulary and phrases discuss the topic. This can be done as a pre-task activity to arouse their interest in the topic and to facilitate them with words to hang their ideas on. In this way we can build up their conference towards more spontaneous performance. 

      Thanks  


      Sent from Samsung Mobile

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Natasha Janzen Ulbricht
      Hi Alina, In situations where people are in a larger group where they do not know each other, without much structure, it is easy for the lower-level learners
      Message 2 of 10 , Jan 27, 2013
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        Hi Alina,

        In situations where people are in a larger group where they do not know
        each other, without much structure, it is easy for the lower-level learners
        to opt for "learning by listening" and not say much. I would second what
        Gorana said, suggest topics other than philosophy, but use these other
        topics to practice using forms that are used in philosophy, like lining up
        an argument to persuade someone.

        If you want to do a whole group exercise, Luke and Scott's book, Teaching
        Unplugged, contains an exercise called Space Travellers. You take
        statements that are interesting (My dentist's office is a wonderful place.
        Philosophers are the most intelligent people. January is the best month.)
        You arrange pieces of paper with the words Agree, Disagree and Not sure
        along a line. After someone reads a statement, people decide on their
        position and place themselves on the line. They then explain to the two
        people next to them why. Next people explain to the group why they are
        where they are.

        There is a bit more to the exercise, if you cannot access the book, I would
        be happy to fill in a few more details if appreciated.

        It sounds like you have an interesting challenge. I hope you let people
        know what you decided on and how things went.

        Natasha


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Rob
        Alina, welcome! Your questions are not at all silly but rather just the sort of thing we should be discussing here. Every class is made up of different levels
        Message 3 of 10 , Jan 27, 2013
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          Alina, welcome! Your questions are not at all silly but rather just the sort of thing we should be discussing here.

          Every class is made up of different levels really, but it is more challenging to teacher and learner alike when these differences are stark. Grouping students by perceived level for appropriate tasks is of course one way to approach this, but that might not be feasible for you in an English club environment although I've seen it done.

          Philosophy and religion are the stuff of everyday life, but we've gone and put academics in charge of such topics. The really wise academics go to children with "deep questions" because kids answer naturally, without trying to sound clever, and use simple language rather than jargon. So, for example, instead of using terms like epistemological inquiry, we might simply ask:

          What do you know? How do you know that you know something?

          It could even be playful, if the group likes play as much as most do:

          Why did you get out of bed this morning?
          How did culture, society, and beliefs affect your decision?

          It might be good to contrast jargon with plain-speak, too. Cognitive psychology is notorious for rebranding concepts that the ancient Greek philosophers wrote about, eg bias confirmation and cognitive dissonance.

          If it's a club, I would give the learners, ie the club members, as much say as possible in what happens with the club. And I would let people get to know each other first and foremost without foisting topics and tasks on them - I'm sure you've thought of that already.

          I hope some of this is helpful. Greetings to St. Petersburg, a city of fond memories for me.

          Rob



          Sent from my iPad

          On Jan 26, 2013, at 4:49 AM, "alina1988ru" <englishatthefaculty2013@...> wrote:

          > Hello everybody,
          > I'm new to this group and I want to ask for some advice. I'm a teacher of English at the Faculty of Philosophy at Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia, and this year I'm planning to organise a discussion club/english speaking club at the faculty, but I have a lot of questions:
          > - How to work with a group in which the students are of absolutely different levels (and they naturally will be)? I have no such experience yet!
          > - Since they're all into philosophy, or culture studies, or museum/religion studies it'd be neccessary to introduce some really profound, deep and tricky topics (social, ethical, philosophical problems) for discussion. How to make people with a small vocabulary participate and not keep silent in this cases?
          > P.S. If my questions are silly and inapropriate please forgive me as I'm new to the group and to Dogme ELT approach in general;)
          > Thank you all in advance.
          >
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • leonitanz
          Hi Alina, Wow, your teaching situation sounds great ... a group of students all interested in the same things! My approach is a little different, I wouldn t
          Message 4 of 10 , Jan 27, 2013
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            Hi Alina,



            Wow, your teaching situation sounds great ... a group of students all interested in the same things!



            My approach is a little different, I wouldn't separate them into different abilities, I wouldn't pre-teach vocabulary and phrases to be used in conversation, and I wouldn't dumb down the topics.





            I would emphasise that the rule for the club is "English only" and the focus is on creating connections and relationships in English. Firstly, I model this as a teacher by valuing everything everyone has to say in the class, connecting with everyone and not giving up when someone doesn't understand. For each student to understand and be understood is the most important - this value must be shared by everyone. Start with "warmer" activities that are light, and playful.



            I would not become overly involved with the students with limited vocabulary, they need a lot of "input" at the stage. Instead, I would focus on the relationships and connections that support students being "engaged" in the conversations. I watch body language and eye contact for engagement. Those at higher levels also need to support these students by including everyone in conversations and be willing to explain in different ways for others to understand (rephrasing and speaking in more simple terms is also very good for their English)



            I set the conversation topics with just one word e.g, Life, Love, Reality, Fairness, Time...... It gives the students the freedom to think imaginatively, formulate their own questions and create connections to their personal past experiences and beliefs, expanding how English is experienced by them. It gives the students the choice as to how basic or in-depth they want their discussion to go. Students can start to bring their own words and concepts.



            I would vary the intensity of the conversations from whole class, groups of three, and then partner conversations. It changes dynamics for how active or passive the students need to be. No dictionaries to be used in conversations. Student's are encouraged to say "I don't know what that means", "What does .... mean?", "Can you explain ..." , "What's another word for ...."



            The biggest challenge for me as a teacher is to overcome my view that I need to be actively controlling the students and being a "teacher". It takes "no fear" to be quiet, sit still, be present enough to be tuned into the student's level of engagement with one another, be available for support when they ask for it in the moment they need it, and allow the conversations to develop naturally.



            Leona

            --- In dogme@yahoogroups.com, "alina1988ru" wrote:
            >
            > Hello everybody,
            > I'm new to this group and I want to ask for some advice. I'm a teacher of English at the Faculty of Philosophy at Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia, and this year I'm planning to organise a discussion club/english speaking club at the faculty, but I have a lot of questions:
            > - How to work with a group in which the students are of absolutely different levels (and they naturally will be)? I have no such experience yet!
            > - Since they're all into philosophy, or culture studies, or museum/religion studies it'd be neccessary to introduce some really profound, deep and tricky topics (social, ethical, philosophical problems) for discussion. How to make people with a small vocabulary participate and not keep silent in this cases?
            > P.S. If my questions are silly and inapropriate please forgive me as I'm new to the group and to Dogme ELT approach in general;)
            > Thank you all in advance.
            >
          • Rob
            While Leona s suggestions are as dogmetic as can be, and I can t disagree with any of them on principle, I want to be clear that I didn t mean to suggest
            Message 5 of 10 , Jan 27, 2013
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              While Leona's suggestions are as dogmetic as can be, and I can't disagree with any of them on principle, I want to be clear that I didn't mean to suggest "dumbing down" topics at all. Making the language less complex but not the ideas is what I meant to propose. Dumbing down, to me, means popularizing ideas in a way that makes them less substantial.

              I'm under the impression, perhaps mistakenly, that some students might be "beginners", and this club is not a formal class but rather an extracurricular meeting place. Is that right?

              That said, the approach Leona puts forward is a sound one, to be sure. How much structure crystalizes has a lot to do with learner expectations and teacher flexibility.

              Rob

              Sent from my iPad

              On Jan 27, 2013, at 1:32 PM, "leonitanz" <leonitanz@...> wrote:

              >
              >
              > Hi Alina,
              >
              > Wow, your teaching situation sounds great ... a group of students all interested in the same things!
              >
              > My approach is a little different, I wouldn't separate them into different abilities, I wouldn't pre-teach vocabulary and phrases to be used in conversation, and I wouldn't dumb down the topics.
              >
              > I would emphasise that the rule for the club is "English only" and the focus is on creating connections and relationships in English. Firstly, I model this as a teacher by valuing everything everyone has to say in the class, connecting with everyone and not giving up when someone doesn't understand. For each student to understand and be understood is the most important - this value must be shared by everyone. Start with "warmer" activities that are light, and playful.
              >
              > I would not become overly involved with the students with limited vocabulary, they need a lot of "input" at the stage. Instead, I would focus on the relationships and connections that support students being "engaged" in the conversations. I watch body language and eye contact for engagement. Those at higher levels also need to support these students by including everyone in conversations and be willing to explain in different ways for others to understand (rephrasing and speaking in more simple terms is also very good for their English)
              >
              > I set the conversation topics with just one word e.g, Life, Love, Reality, Fairness, Time...... It gives the students the freedom to think imaginatively, formulate their own questions and create connections to their personal past experiences and beliefs, expanding how English is experienced by them. It gives the students the choice as to how basic or in-depth they want their discussion to go. Students can start to bring their own words and concepts.
              >
              > I would vary the intensity of the conversations from whole class, groups of three, and then partner conversations. It changes dynamics for how active or passive the students need to be. No dictionaries to be used in conversations. Student's are encouraged to say "I don't know what that means", "What does .... mean?", "Can you explain ..." , "What's another word for ...."
              >
              > The biggest challenge for me as a teacher is to overcome my view that I need to be actively controlling the students and being a "teacher". It takes "no fear" to be quiet, sit still, be present enough to be tuned into the student's level of engagement with one another, be available for support when they ask for it in the moment they need it, and allow the conversations to develop naturally.
              >
              > Leona
              >
              > --- In dogme@yahoogroups.com, "alina1988ru" wrote:
              > >
              > > Hello everybody,
              > > I'm new to this group and I want to ask for some advice. I'm a teacher of English at the Faculty of Philosophy at Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia, and this year I'm planning to organise a discussion club/english speaking club at the faculty, but I have a lot of questions:
              > > - How to work with a group in which the students are of absolutely different levels (and they naturally will be)? I have no such experience yet!
              > > - Since they're all into philosophy, or culture studies, or museum/religion studies it'd be neccessary to introduce some really profound, deep and tricky topics (social, ethical, philosophical problems) for discussion. How to make people with a small vocabulary participate and not keep silent in this cases?
              > > P.S. If my questions are silly and inapropriate please forgive me as I'm new to the group and to Dogme ELT approach in general;)
              > > Thank you all in advance.
              > >
              >
              >


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • leonitanz
              Hi Rob, I hadn t read your post until after I sent mine, (was in my spam folder)so the term dumbing down wasn t referring to anything you had written. I
              Message 6 of 10 , Jan 27, 2013
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                Hi Rob,

                I hadn't read your post until after I sent mine, (was in my spam folder)so the term "dumbing down" wasn't referring to anything you had written. I think what you wrote is absolutely true for me, and it was great that you mentioned that even children have amazing philosophical conversations.

                I think just because we have limited vocabulary doesn't mean we have to limit the conversation down to topics such as "Going to the dentist" as Gorana suggested in her post. My most inspiring, meaningful, and engaging conversations have been very deep topic in my very limited second language.

                I appreciate your comments as it clarifies what I meant by "dumbing down" - like reducing things down to a linear type conversation. I agree with you when you say that it is about making the language less complex but not the ideas!



                Leona

                --- In dogme@yahoogroups.com, Rob wrote:
                >
                > While Leona's suggestions are as dogmetic as can be, and I can't disagree with any of them on principle, I want to be clear that I didn't mean to suggest "dumbing down" topics at all. Making the language less complex but not the ideas is what I meant to propose. Dumbing down, to me, means popularizing ideas in a way that makes them less substantial.
                >
                > I'm under the impression, perhaps mistakenly, that some students might be "beginners", and this club is not a formal class but rather an extracurricular meeting place. Is that right?
                >
                > That said, the approach Leona puts forward is a sound one, to be sure. How much structure crystalizes has a lot to do with learner expectations and teacher flexibility.
                >
                > Rob
                >
                > Sent from my iPad
                >
                > On Jan 27, 2013, at 1:32 PM, "leonitanz" wrote:
                >
                > >
                > >
                > > Hi Alina,
                > >
                > > Wow, your teaching situation sounds great ... a group of students all interested in the same things!
                > >
                > > My approach is a little different, I wouldn't separate them into different abilities, I wouldn't pre-teach vocabulary and phrases to be used in conversation, and I wouldn't dumb down the topics.
                > >
                > > I would emphasise that the rule for the club is "English only" and the focus is on creating connections and relationships in English. Firstly, I model this as a teacher by valuing everything everyone has to say in the class, connecting with everyone and not giving up when someone doesn't understand. For each student to understand and be understood is the most important - this value must be shared by everyone. Start with "warmer" activities that are light, and playful.
                > >
                > > I would not become overly involved with the students with limited vocabulary, they need a lot of "input" at the stage. Instead, I would focus on the relationships and connections that support students being "engaged" in the conversations. I watch body language and eye contact for engagement. Those at higher levels also need to support these students by including everyone in conversations and be willing to explain in different ways for others to understand (rephrasing and speaking in more simple terms is also very good for their English)
                > >
                > > I set the conversation topics with just one word e.g, Life, Love, Reality, Fairness, Time...... It gives the students the freedom to think imaginatively, formulate their own questions and create connections to their personal past experiences and beliefs, expanding how English is experienced by them. It gives the students the choice as to how basic or in-depth they want their discussion to go. Students can start to bring their own words and concepts.
                > >
                > > I would vary the intensity of the conversations from whole class, groups of three, and then partner conversations. It changes dynamics for how active or passive the students need to be. No dictionaries to be used in conversations. Student's are encouraged to say "I don't know what that means", "What does .... mean?", "Can you explain ..." , "What's another word for ...."
                > >
                > > The biggest challenge for me as a teacher is to overcome my view that I need to be actively controlling the students and being a "teacher". It takes "no fear" to be quiet, sit still, be present enough to be tuned into the student's level of engagement with one another, be available for support when they ask for it in the moment they need it, and allow the conversations to develop naturally.
                > >
                > > Leona
                > >
                > > --- In dogme@yahoogroups.com, "alina1988ru" wrote:
                > > >
                > > > Hello everybody,
                > > > I'm new to this group and I want to ask for some advice. I'm a teacher of English at the Faculty of Philosophy at Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia, and this year I'm planning to organise a discussion club/english speaking club at the faculty, but I have a lot of questions:
                > > > - How to work with a group in which the students are of absolutely different levels (and they naturally will be)? I have no such experience yet!
                > > > - Since they're all into philosophy, or culture studies, or museum/religion studies it'd be neccessary to introduce some really profound, deep and tricky topics (social, ethical, philosophical problems) for discussion. How to make people with a small vocabulary participate and not keep silent in this cases?
                > > > P.S. If my questions are silly and inapropriate please forgive me as I'm new to the group and to Dogme ELT approach in general;)
                > > > Thank you all in advance.
                > > >
                > >
                > >
                >
                >
                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >
              • Rob
                Yes, Leona, I just wanted to clarify that in the context of this thread. It s always impossible to know who s read what and when on blogs and lists like this
                Message 7 of 10 , Jan 27, 2013
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                  Yes, Leona, I just wanted to clarify that in the context of this thread. It's always impossible to know who's read what and when on blogs and lists like this one unless we let each other know, which you've graciously done.

                  I don't like talking about going to the dentist in my mother tongue, but I can imagine telling my classmates just how true that is, in a language I'm learning, might be okay. :-)

                  Rob

                  Sent from my iPad

                  On Jan 27, 2013, at 3:01 PM, "leonitanz" <leonitanz@...> wrote:

                  > Hi Rob,
                  >
                  > I hadn't read your post until after I sent mine, (was in my spam folder)so the term "dumbing down" wasn't referring to anything you had written. I think what you wrote is absolutely true for me, and it was great that you mentioned that even children have amazing philosophical conversations.
                  >
                  > I think just because we have limited vocabulary doesn't mean we have to limit the conversation down to topics such as "Going to the dentist" as Gorana suggested in her post. My most inspiring, meaningful, and engaging conversations have been very deep topic in my very limited second language.
                  >
                  > I appreciate your comments as it clarifies what I meant by "dumbing down" - like reducing things down to a linear type conversation. I agree with you when you say that it is about making the language less complex but not the ideas!
                  >
                  > Leona
                  >
                  > --- In dogme@yahoogroups.com, Rob wrote:
                  > >
                  > > While Leona's suggestions are as dogmetic as can be, and I can't disagree with any of them on principle, I want to be clear that I didn't mean to suggest "dumbing down" topics at all. Making the language less complex but not the ideas is what I meant to propose. Dumbing down, to me, means popularizing ideas in a way that makes them less substantial.
                  > >
                  > > I'm under the impression, perhaps mistakenly, that some students might be "beginners", and this club is not a formal class but rather an extracurricular meeting place. Is that right?
                  > >
                  > > That said, the approach Leona puts forward is a sound one, to be sure. How much structure crystalizes has a lot to do with learner expectations and teacher flexibility.
                  > >
                  > > Rob
                  > >
                  > > Sent from my iPad
                  > >
                  > > On Jan 27, 2013, at 1:32 PM, "leonitanz" wrote:
                  > >
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > > Hi Alina,
                  > > >
                  > > > Wow, your teaching situation sounds great ... a group of students all interested in the same things!
                  > > >
                  > > > My approach is a little different, I wouldn't separate them into different abilities, I wouldn't pre-teach vocabulary and phrases to be used in conversation, and I wouldn't dumb down the topics.
                  > > >
                  > > > I would emphasise that the rule for the club is "English only" and the focus is on creating connections and relationships in English. Firstly, I model this as a teacher by valuing everything everyone has to say in the class, connecting with everyone and not giving up when someone doesn't understand. For each student to understand and be understood is the most important - this value must be shared by everyone. Start with "warmer" activities that are light, and playful.
                  > > >
                  > > > I would not become overly involved with the students with limited vocabulary, they need a lot of "input" at the stage. Instead, I would focus on the relationships and connections that support students being "engaged" in the conversations. I watch body language and eye contact for engagement. Those at higher levels also need to support these students by including everyone in conversations and be willing to explain in different ways for others to understand (rephrasing and speaking in more simple terms is also very good for their English)
                  > > >
                  > > > I set the conversation topics with just one word e.g, Life, Love, Reality, Fairness, Time...... It gives the students the freedom to think imaginatively, formulate their own questions and create connections to their personal past experiences and beliefs, expanding how English is experienced by them. It gives the students the choice as to how basic or in-depth they want their discussion to go. Students can start to bring their own words and concepts.
                  > > >
                  > > > I would vary the intensity of the conversations from whole class, groups of three, and then partner conversations. It changes dynamics for how active or passive the students need to be. No dictionaries to be used in conversations. Student's are encouraged to say "I don't know what that means", "What does .... mean?", "Can you explain ..." , "What's another word for ...."
                  > > >
                  > > > The biggest challenge for me as a teacher is to overcome my view that I need to be actively controlling the students and being a "teacher". It takes "no fear" to be quiet, sit still, be present enough to be tuned into the student's level of engagement with one another, be available for support when they ask for it in the moment they need it, and allow the conversations to develop naturally.
                  > > >
                  > > > Leona
                  > > >
                  > > > --- In dogme@yahoogroups.com, "alina1988ru" wrote:
                  > > > >
                  > > > > Hello everybody,
                  > > > > I'm new to this group and I want to ask for some advice. I'm a teacher of English at the Faculty of Philosophy at Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia, and this year I'm planning to organise a discussion club/english speaking club at the faculty, but I have a lot of questions:
                  > > > > - How to work with a group in which the students are of absolutely different levels (and they naturally will be)? I have no such experience yet!
                  > > > > - Since they're all into philosophy, or culture studies, or museum/religion studies it'd be neccessary to introduce some really profound, deep and tricky topics (social, ethical, philosophical problems) for discussion. How to make people with a small vocabulary participate and not keep silent in this cases?
                  > > > > P.S. If my questions are silly and inapropriate please forgive me as I'm new to the group and to Dogme ELT approach in general;)
                  > > > > Thank you all in advance.
                  > > > >
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  > >
                  >
                  >


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Gorana
                  Going to the dentist was more of an illustration of the world-around-us kind of topics which are primarily aimed at increasing the vocabulary and linguistic
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jan 27, 2013
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                    'Going to the dentist' was more of an illustration of the world-around-us kind of topics which are primarily aimed at increasing the vocabulary and linguistic competence.
                    In my experience abstract topics introduced at early stages of discussion sessions often posed a barrier and students were less inclined to say anything because:
                    a) they felt lack of self-confidence
                    b) they felt they needed to get to know each other more before moving on to more 'personal' topics.

                    I just feel that maybe it would be a better idea to start with more general and practical topics and then to proceed to the abstract ones (at least in the case of lower level students)
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