Tuesday, September 10, 2013

round robin: day 2

Today, Tuesday, I did the round-robin method with my lone intro-level class. It didn't go over as well with these timid beginners as it did with my bolder intermediates, but I also realized that I needed to lower my standards: because these were beginners, I couldn't expect them to be as gung-ho as my intermediate-level students had been on Monday. Were my beginners on task? Generally, yes. Were they attempting to speak in English? Again, for the most part, yes. That's about all I could ask for, really, and I'm optimistic that, as the semester continues, my beginners will get better and better at teaching the material to each other.

Thanks to our collegial network, I've received two invitations for paper submissions for two different TESOL conferences. I've been contemplating writing this experiment up and submitting it, possibly for presentation. I think the round-robin approach is worthwhile; it has a lot going for it, despite certain inherent disadvantages. Whether it should be a language teacher's primary approach to language teaching is a question I hope to answer by the end of the semester, given how heavily I plan to rely on this method. After the round-robin hour is done, I normally have a few minutes in which to do other, non-round-robin activities, which adds a bit of variety to the session.

I'm hoping my kids won't get sick of this approach after only a few weeks. If anything, I want to see them honing their skills, both as teachers and as people grappling with English mastery. I'm convinced that a sense of proactivity will be crucial in aiding their language learning; this ties in with Stephen Krashen's affective-filter hypothesis, i.e., one's comfort level in the classroom (the affective filter in question) affects one's in-class performance and ability to learn. I'm betting that timid kids are poor performers, whereas kids who are confident and who feel responsible for their own learning will grab English by the horns and throw it to the ground. The proof is in the pudding, to be sure: if my kids all produce substandard results on their first quiz next week, then I'll seriously consider changing my approach.


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