LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||10/JUN/2010 11:58 PM|
Here are my disjointed thoughts.
Members were aware who the guest speaker was and what was going to be discussed. (This was in the newspaper, by the way.) This allowed them to ask meaningful questions about the subject the guest discussed. Of course, they could also ask questions about what the guest thought of Inter, if he had been to Foz de Iguacu. what he did for a living in his country, did he have a pretty sister, etc.
I visited some English classes at universities and private schools, and it was a common practice for the professor to tell the students ahead of time that I was coming and encourage them to ask me questions. They would ask me about music, pets, movie stars, etc. Sometimes the questions had been prepared in advance, and sometimes they were not. I encouraged everyone to ask me questions, but I did not push. If the student was shy, I did not insist. This may be a good subject to discuss with your guest.
By the way, I don't recall that any of our club members were currently taking English classes elsewhere. I think the schools I contacted saw the club as competition. Others told me that the club would show students how poorly they were doing in their expensive private classes. Who knows?
As I recall, the general formula was (1) the guest was introduced, (2) the guest talked to the members, (3) the members discussed the talk in small groups, and (4) the members asked questions of the guest speakers. (The smaller the group, the greater the opportunity for a member to talk.) Some speakers welcomed questions during their talks. That was fine. There were no rules chiseled into marble. We were flexible. Come to think of it, I think members also would say something one by one about their lives since the last club meeting. That may have been in the first part of the meeting, even prior to the introduction of the speaker. It was hard to get some speakers to stop talking. LOL The more they talked, the less time there was for members to talk. It's a good idea to limit the talk to 15-20 minutes.
No effort was made to teach grammar. In our club we had members with very limited skills, very advanced skills, and some in the middle. If something advanced was taught, the beginners would be lost. If something basic was taught, the advanced members would be bored. What is the solution? In your group, what I am describing is probably not a problem because you are at more or less the same level.
Try playing games. Maybe charades. Maybe something like "Pictionary". Party games. If the members get out of their seats once in a while, they will not fall asleep. They must have fun and they must feel they are learning, or they will not be back.
Something you may wish to stress is that the club's purpose is not to teach English but to be a place where it can be practiced. The club is not a substitute for taking an English class, but it is a supplement to a class.
One negative that comes to mind is that when there is a guest speaker, the students are listening and not talking. Maybe that is bad, and maybe it is good. Another is that without a guest speaker, the members will talk more among themselves. Is that bad or good? It may be bad in the sense that the person they are speaking with is teaching them bad grammar, bad pronunciation, etc. It may be good because, whether the English is correct or not, at least the members are communicating.
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