Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


by AJ

"Exhibitions encourage students to go deeper with their learning by requiring them to create and present a portfolio of their work. Where studying for a test may involve students looking at class notes and rereading textbooks, preparing a portfolio requires students to look at and define the many layers of their learning. This can mean sharing successive drafts of a paper, showing photos of a project in various phases of construction, and all sorts of other things. Deep learning is so important, and such a thrill to do and to watch."


I was recently given a class called "Advanced Oral English Proficiency Development". This class is part of a Masters degree program, and I must provide a grade at the end (uh oh :). The good news is that I was given complete control over the syllabus and evaluation. I decided to use presentations and portfolios only... not tests.

Here are the assignments the class will do:

* Weekly speeches & discussions
Each student will give a mini-speech during every class. They will talk about a specific experience for 2-3 minutes. Following their speech, they will conduct a 10 minute class Q & A plus discussion related to the speech.

* Midterm Movie Presentation
Each student will choose an English language movie. Their job is to teach the movie to the rest of the class. This means they need to watch the movie several times to learn new vocabulary and slang from the movie. Ive encouraged them to use English subtitles if they need them.... and to email me with questions about words/phrases they cant find in a dictionary.

Each of them will give a 30-40 minute presentation to the class. They will show a scene from the movie, teach us the vocab/grammar in the scene, then replay the scene a few times till all the students can hear & understand the language used. They'll do this with 2-3 scenes. Of course, this is basically the Focal Skills movie technique... but the students are using it to teach each other (instead of just me doing it).

The student will then lead a class discussion about issues related to the movie scenes they showed.

* Interview Presentations (2)
Students will first choose a topic they are interested in. This could be anything-- cooking, skateboarding, computer programming... whatever. They then must find an expert on this topic and interview them. They will record the interview.

Next, they'll replay the recording at home and decipher any words/phrases they didnt understand, making sure they completely understand what the person was sayiing (Ill help them with this, of course).

Finally, they will present the interview to the class. Theyll teach us difficult words (such as jargon specific to the topic). They'll play their recording. They'll discuss what they learned from the interview. And then they'll lead a discussion on ideas related to the interview. Students will do two of these interviews during the semester.

* Final Project & Presentation
Each student will summarize their learning for the semester.... what they learned from the interviews and movie (and the other students). Theyll also include books, articles, documentaries, conversations, and other ways they learned about their topic (and/or oral English). At the end of their 30 minute presentation, they'll conduct a Q & A session and lead a discussion.

While I believe the presentation/portfolio approach can work with any class... this one seems ideal as my first try. Since this is an ORAL English class, oral presentations make sense to the students. When I told them, "There won't be any written tests because this is a speaking/listening course", they immediately accepted the logic.

Stay tuned.....