Friday, November 13, 2009

Constructing Creative Competence

We started with review, which did not take very long, and then we moved on to sentence stress. I gave them enough time to finish before reading the questions aloud for them. I then had several students come up and write in the stress. I then did something different – I wrote different grammar groups on the board, noun, verb etc and asked them to look at both handouts this week's and last week's and try to figure out which words were stressed and which were not. This was a little difficult for some, but I think this was mainly due to the question. Perhaps it may have been better if I provided the question as a handout. However, there were some who understood and when I asked for the answers there were no problems. As for the verbs though, I did not go into modal verbs because that could have been confusing, so I just listed the verbs afterward telling them that they were exceptions and that usually they are not usually stressed.

This activity took a lot of time, and honestly with some extension activities, I could see it as a potential class. I really think that next year in my Oral Communication class, I will make it more pronunciation focused. I am sure that there are books available, and I could add my own materials, or even if I have enough, I could make it myself.

Once the sentence stress activity was finished, I told them that next class, we would focus on connected speech. Then I dictated questions for the listening comprehension as usual, and after checking the answers, had them first practice with the CD, then in pairs. Next, I handed out the question activity – a reordering exercise that helped them acquire some ideas for follow-up questions, which was the main focus of this unit. Unfortunately, due to the pronunciation component, I had to stop here in order to discuss the test next week.

One thing that I have decided to do in my communication classes is try to do more activities like the one in unit 4, if I remember correctly, a dialogue construction activity. However, unlike the book, I will give them some examples to choose, but also the option to freely try other ideas to make it more interesting for them. I have already made up such activities for both Monday’s and Friday’s classes and will try them next time. Of course, that will also mean that I will have to try to cut down on the amount of time for the pronunciation practice because I will try to get the students to remember the conversation they have made before presenting it, which can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to complete, since I will probably give them 10 minutes to practice and remember with their partner before calling on pairs to present. If, however, I feel that this is too much time, I will reduce it, but really, 10 minutes to create, practice and remember a dialogue, even a short one, can be time consuming for some.

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