How do I stop the parrot training?

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How do I stop the parrot training?

Unread post by pengyou » Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:26 am

I am teaching english to uni sophomores in China and would like some help in addressing
a teaching method that I find not only ineffective but also counterproductive. That is
the habit that many foreign teachers have of giving what I call presentation exercises for
the students to do. These exercises include presenting their own lesson to the class, making a tv advertisement, sharing a report on a foreign country, etc. Before I go any
further, I should say that I think there can be value in these activities. However, in my uni, as in all uni's in China, the curriculum for English majors all include a one year course in presentation in the English language. Their intensive/extensive reading classes, writing classes and listening classes all call for the students to "parrot back" or "recite" as my students put it, to the teacher. The curriculum is full of these parrot back exercises. It seems that the purpose of the oral English class should be to teach dialogue, i.e. listen to conversation, understand it, prepare an answer (thinking on your feet) and then speak your answer. This is how i define oral English.

I have 2 questions that I would like your help with.

1. Can you help me find appropriate search words to help me research this topic? I have googled on common phrases, i.e. TEFL, oral english, etc and get such a huge response that the search was a waste of time.

2. If you have "two cents" that you would like to contribute I would appreciate your own ideas, URLs, books that have been helpful, lesson plans that have worked etc.


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Re: How do I stop the parrot training?

Unread post by konyang » Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:27 am

Well, I think presentations are often quite useful. (I teach at a university in Korea, where the level of English probably a little lower than in China's east.) My students (Korean and Chinese) try to C&P a PPT too much, but with careful practice on how to give a presentation and selection of items that can't be C&Ped (e.g., I have the kids do oral history), I mostly get real effort. In my tourism class, some of the presentations have been a demonstration of TKD, a demonstration of traditional Korean games, and a presentation of some traditional Korean food (yeah, You guessed it, the student didn't prepare the food: her mother did.) In all of these, the very nature of the presentation necessitated the students to itneract in order to clarify points.

But on a more basic level, try using TPRS. In essence, it has you ask a story that the students create by answering questions (an early stage of the method is to teach the basic journalism questions), which are scaffolded into more complex and more independent responses. The students answer, most simply with "yes," then "no," then they have to decide yes or no, then they have to give back (parrot, but only at first) content words and chunks, later they have to supply their own explanations and interpretations. In addition, during the asking fo the story, they are encouraged to add details of their own choice.

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Re: How do I stop the parrot training?

Unread post by Shelley » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:30 am

Hello there,

Try my free samples for teens and adults which are mostly focused on meaningful communication of the kind that you are looking for. There are plenty of varied ideas.

The first one is more of a "parrot-type" activity so don't be put off, it's actually a funny one and v. effective for helping fluency, but subsequent games in the free series are more on the lines of what you are looking for.

These are free to receive by email, no snags, catches or obligations - you are welcome to try them and unsubscribe from the mailings any time.

All the best

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