When learning to speak a second language, you can read and write all day long, but at the end of the day if you haven’t practiced out loud it won’t do you any good. As an ESL teacher this is great to remember but hard to enforce. Though my Chinese college students had studied English since grade school, very few of them were confident enough to answer a question aloud, let alone carry on a conversation.
This put me in quite the predicament since the course I taught was titled “Oral English.”
In order to encourage speaking and yet accommodate varying levels of speakers, I decided to host a three-part English Speech Contest. Designed for a 90-minute class of 25-40 students, my lesson plan looked something like this:
At the Henan Institute of Science and Technology, our classrooms had individual monitors for each student. While this was horrible for trying to get them to look up and make eye contact, it was great for activities that required instructions I would’ve usually written on the board. Plus, then everyone who had poor eyesight or listening comprehension could always read what I was saying.
I found the best way to teach Chinese college students ESL was to make it fun so they’d forget to be nervous. Most of them had had English training since they were children, but still weren’t confident enough to speak. While brainstorming ways to help them practice their oral English, I came up with this.