domingo, 27 de febrero de 2011

Analysis of a Speaking Activity

The following video shows an instance of Part 3 of the CAE Speaking Paper.


The analysis of the activity will focus on the following questions:

1- To what extent does the activity encourage or oblige participation from all the students?

Whether a mere rehearsal or the recording of an actual interview, the students are expected to participate in the activity. As a matter of fact, this is clearly stated by the interviewer right from the start, when the candidates are asked to talk to each other and come to a decision within a set limit of time.

This involves prioritising, speculating, selecting and negotiating between both of them. They should keep the conversation going, making use of different conversational strategies in order to do so. It is supposed to be neither a monologue nor an interview, with only one party prompting or asking questions and the other one answering them.

2- What examples can you find of conversational adjustments as students try to negotiate meaning, for example, asking for and giving clarification, repetition, furher explanation through paraphrasing?
Both students are supposed to come up with an equal share and diversitiy of conversational skills. Repetition, paraphrasing, or asking for and giving clarification are expected.

Examples of the latter can be found when listening to them during the stretch between 1.57min and 2.10 min; rephrasing is found during the first 1.30 mins of the recording; confirmation can be found within the same stretch of time (2.02min approx.); and there's an example of agreement towards the end (about 4.02min) when the girl in long sleeves agrees with her partner.

3- What examples can you find of students correcting each other?

There are no examples of this kind. There is a lot of reformulation, asking for clarification and incomplete sentences, but neither of them corrected each other.

4- How would you comment on the general level of accuracy in the students' language?

I would say that the general level of accuracy in the students' language is not bad (in spite of the last conditional sentence); however, I should have expected something a bit more daring for a CAE level. Hadn't it been presented as an inteview for this exam, it could have been thought it was being carried out by students at intermediate level. There were none of the perks expected at an advanced level of English- both candidates opted for plain language.

5- If the activity had a focus on some area of grammar or use of vocabulary, to what extent did this appear in the students' language?

The students had to express their opinions and come to an agreement. In order to carry do the activity, they are free to choose whatever item of grammar or vocabulary they feel like using; it is free production. Yet, they are expected to meet certain expectations, inkeeping with their level of proficiency.

When you have considered these points, decide whether you think it was an activity worth doing, and why. Would you change anything in a re-run of it?

Of course this is an activity worth doing. It is a realistic activity- I just wonder whether the topic is something you would usually have to decide about. But giving opinions and coming to an agreement are things people do in their everyday lives.

Still, there was considerable overuse of reformulation and incomplete sentences by one of the candidates, which -together with the fact that this student's speaking time was far less than her partner's- added to the feeling of not having contributed enough for a CAE interview. This does not mean that in my opinion the other candidate did better- actually, she embarked in a kind of monologue, almost ignoring the fact that she should have integrated her partner- a basic conversational rule.

If a re-run of the activity were carried out, I would emphasize that. This was not supposed to be a monologue, but an exchange of ideas, a dialogue in which both participants should listen to each other and let their partners talk. Otherwise, things like the following might happen in real life (0:27 to 1:55, though the whole interview is like a jewel for the fans)

viernes, 25 de febrero de 2011

Reading Comprehension: "What does this mean??"

Chapter 6 - Hedge - Reading
I have successfully uploaded the document here. I think it is much easier to leave comments here than in the text on the wall. However, you can still read the original post on the column on the right, immediately above the Power Point presentation- I wasn't able to delete it.
Big hug,

miércoles, 23 de febrero de 2011

Types of texts

For the discussion topic on Writing, I chose the first topic on page 330 of Tricia Hedge's Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom. Thinking of a group of learners we currently taught, we had to think of their needs for writing in English, make a list of the text types we could include in their writing programme and list them under the suggested headings. The accompanying glogster was designed keeping in mind a group of teenagers level in their senior year at high school. You may be wondering why I have decided to include teaching how to write a CV instead of teaching them how to write an essay. The reason was simple: they were seventeen-year-old students with an intermediate level of English. Writing a CV is not as difficult as writing an essay, especially when the latter requires a certain mastery of the language. Besides, though they were still young to work, they would be entering the workforce the following year (some of them, that very summer), and they would have to write a resumé in some cases in Spanish and in English. Instead of essays, I decided to include presentations, articles and reviews, mainly because they in keeping with speaking. Texting, e-mails, notes, lists would also be included because they have to do with our everyday life. Still, I would like to make a strong point of two kinds of text I think are very important. One is how to make a summary, which I find extremely helpful but not every student knows how to do it. I would definitely include that kind of writing in the syllabus. The other is creative writing; I would also include the teaching of narrative and descriptive texts but with a creative twist- maybe they could publish their work in the school magazine, blog it, post it in the school site, display it on boards for everybody to read. Suggestions would be welcome. I have included two videos from School Tube Videos which I absolutely loved. I hope you'll enjoy them.