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How can I motivate students? Why can't they speak English?

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Should I have reacted differently after I discovered one of my students couldn't speak in a normal conversation?

Yes.
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No.
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There is nothing more you could do.
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Total votes : 2

How can I motivate students? Why can't they speak English?

Unread postby wxyrty » Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:19 pm

To all my colleague:

I am a college student and a part time ESL teacher. My students are older people whose age range from 40 to 60+. Many of them attend my class regularly once a week. All my students wants to learn English but many of them have been in ESL class for over two years. To the best of my knowledge, they all study in other schools prior coming to my course for many years and they all have accumalted over 500+ english vocabularies and they show an understanding of English grammar when it is on paper. (I tested them with basic grammar and vocabularies and was amazed by how well they did, I also tested their listening comprehensions and gave them oral examinations. They performed adequatly and even became bored of my lectures and asked me for more advance materials)

So, Why can't they speak English when they are with other people? Is there something wrong with my lessons?

Here is what I did. I began with the basic nouns, pronouns, simple verbs, simple adjectives, and tenses, then times, directions, locations, and harder vocabularies, speaking, writing. (I gave them an assignment that ask them Why do they want to learn English?) I thought I have succeeded in teaching these folks English but when one of my colleage went and talk to one of them, that person couldn't understand. I went and checked my entire class and found that all my students coludn't speak English in a normal setting. They could, however, solve problems I assigned them and answered simple questions which are related to the text.

I asked myself, what is going on?! Together with my colleagues, we engaged each of my students, one on one, in normal conversations. ALL of them uttered nonsense after "Hello! how are you, fine thank you."

After that incident, some students stop attending my class. Some students still attend my class but are no longer enthusiastic. One of the students told me that she will continue to come to my class because she needs to speak English but doubts that she will ever learn to speak English.

I plead for your help. How can I motivate my students? Why can't they speak English when they know 500+ vocabularies and basic grammar?

I want them to be able to speak and understand English, or at the very less make them believe they can learn to speak English again.

sincerely,
Lambert waxoyruntury
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Unread postby bahabbi73 » Mon Jul 10, 2006 2:50 am

Hi, I have been a second-language English teacher for 12 years. I am from Mexico, and my answer to the second question is that older adults feel ashamed or shy about talking english to any person they don´t know. We, the mexicans, or latinos have been taught for many years that if you don´t speak well english, then don´t even try to do so. I admire you, americans, that you are not shy of talking spanish, even though the pronunciation is not very good. Well, about your first question, what about if you suggest to go somewhere, for example a friendly restaurant, so they can and must talk in English? Of course, tell them that each one must pay their own, but I tried that one time here en Mexico with some executives from a well-known commerce bank, and we had so much fun, the waiter, who was a mexican but knew how to talk in English, helped a lot. I hope that you like this suggestion. Good Luck! (Buena Suerte)
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hi in this plot,

Unread postby reader1 » Mon Jul 10, 2006 9:31 pm

I live in a country where people don't speak English (they say). I think there are some reasons of it and it isn't because of cultural differences. though I am not sure. i was taught by US teachers and some people in my group were MORE than noisy as far as I remember. but sometimes we all were so TIRED we didn't have STRENGHT to talk neither in English nor in any other language. however it is strange to me that you have such problems living in US.
what I can say from my own experience sometimes I felt ashamed of speaking but not because I WAS SCARED OF MY FAULTS but because very loaded people were scared of doing them and the very strange silence was in the air after their English-language boosting about many things. In such case other were the more silent and the atmosphere was very strange. personally I had to change two groups before I met appropriate both learners and teachers (cause in my country such native teachers always are more than hopeless in their boosting and it isn't possible to learn with them cause they are so self-concetrated and aloof:(. sometimes also they lack any teaching skills in teaching and they people smile under they breath and when they are paid for their lessons, they sit silently and go away.
so now you can think about you - where your problem lies?
Thanks for attention,
reader1
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Unread postby GiddyGad » Sat Jul 15, 2006 12:27 am

Hi there,

The problem is not that simple. And students are not to blame.

Just imagine the difficulties they face. They've got their lives' experiences, they've got a lot to say, but every time they open their mouths they understand they lack the very words they need to effectively express themselves. All their experiences lie in their '1st-language' lives. Their concentration is natural - they waste time recalling words, and then forgetting them when they try to pack them into verbal patterns; then forget the patterns when trying to, again, recall the words. The efficiency is low, and they don't know how to increase it. It's a teacher's job to save them these difficulties.

There's much more to it, but the said is enough for one post.

Smiles,

GiddyGad
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hi,

Unread postby Jump Start ! » Tue Aug 01, 2006 7:55 am

Speaking about teaching, yeah, i think almost everybody here have different experiences. I can speak of m own experience when i was teaching in a classroom with Korean middle school students. just like what you said, i gave them a test just to know which level they were and it was amazing results. I also had review of those basic lessons. But to my surprise, when i try to talk with them in a casual conversation outside the classroom (e.g in the lobby) they didnt anwer me. They just look at me. Sometimes i know they undesrtand but they didnt say it , just a gesture. Though i know they have another culture than i do, and when i started to comprehend and understand their culture and my students' behavior, i found it that they are strongly competitive. So, with the help of the internet and advice from some friends, i developed games (about english) in my class that seems to be competing each individual or group. And i also realize that sometimes why students don't speak, or dont learn as what we (teachers) wanted, because we are using our own motivation to make them learn, or using our own "language" of undertanding. We need to use their "language" also the right and specific motivation for each individual so that they would learn what we want them to learn. Just like an example:i have noticed that kid in my class that he understood the lesson. his tests were pretty good, on the blackboard, ok also, but only when i let him speak or participate in oral, he started to shink in his desk... so i intiated a further communication with him through talking with him in korean at first. then i found that he was willing to talk and even more funny kid. So what i did, everytime i want to have translation of new sentence in the classroom, i work out it with him and a kor-eng dictionary. I he agreed that when i called his name in the class he would say the korean translation. And then on the next day and more. Not only that he gains confidence talking in the class (though in korean) i also let them say 3 or 5 times the new english expression of the day. It turned out it was his turning point to speak in the class.
I think not only that teach them what we want them to learn but i think we need to go more deeper to their behavior, so when we teach them things about english, they will absorb it because you are using their own "language".

thanks.
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Unread postby GiddyGad » Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:14 pm

Hi Jump Start,

Your experience is really valuable and it's good you've got the practice as to how to make pupils speak... In general, kids are more flexible; adults are more difficult, at least many of them. I wouldn't advise a teacher to practise communication skills with adult students unless they have learnt to easily pronounce the necessary patterns, lest they be discouraged by unsuccessful attempts.

My ha'p'orth, anyway,

GiddyGad
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thanks GiddyGad

Unread postby Jump Start ! » Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:39 am

Yeah, i think so, too, that kids are more flexible than adult. Well, as for my me according to what i've experience in my adult class, i would try different strategy in that class.
[b]"To be a better teacher is not only to know each students by name but most importantly to know how to use the right motivation to learn your subject..."[b] [i]I love my Babe [i]
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Unread postby SaudQ8 » Mon Aug 07, 2006 3:18 am

The answer of the first question is that the choice

of the topics is so important that the students can

have a clear vision of the English culture whether

American or British. In other words, what I mean is

that teacher should choose different topics that are

not only related to English and Language but also

about the social life, buisness life, political life

and other aspects of their lives. I advise teacher

to give their students the appropriate words that

can be used to feed their minds not words that are

used to the abstract analysis as testing their

conceptual ideas about grammar and rules of English.

My method is derived from Paoulo Frierra whose

method is that the teacher should choose an image

that is related to the students'lives as

Unemployment and let the students give the chance

and the time to express their views. I find this

method is interesting and make the students being

weaponed by the word that calls for action.


Don't be afriad it's not a political reply, it's

just an educational one.

My pleasure,

Saud :)
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