Archive for Tag: student

Monday, February 26, 2018

Old-School Class Presentations

Kristine Fielding teaches ESOL at Lone Star College in Houston, TX.

Maybe I’m not as old-school as I thought.

Back in the day, I was a staunch supporter of the Class Presentation, believing it was a sign of a Good Teacher to require one from all students. A Good Teacher helps her students iron out a presentation, demonstrates how a rubric works, and then dutifully sits through hours of student speeches, making a tally mark here or there on her grading sheet.

For good or bad, times have changed. Lately, I have been reflecting on the value of class presentations and wondering if they are worth the time to prepare, give, and listen to.

Recently, I had a few students request that our class never again give class presentations. This was after two and a half class sessions devoted to class presentations. These particular students spoke well and eagerly participated in every class, so I didn’t think their request was based on any lack of confidence or desire to speak in front of their peers. Instead, they said, they came to class to learn English from a fluent speaker.

My students pointed out they listen to each other during our speaking activities and discussions, but they would prefer not to spend additional time just listening to other students’ imperfect English since that wouldn’t be helpful to learning good habits.

I realize their argument flies in the face of political correctness. I remember one of my graduate TESOL courses discussed the validation of the infinite varieties of English, not just American English or British English; this is especially true since English is becoming the lingua franca worldwide.

I explained to my students they needed to learn to negotiate the language in everyday interactions because they will likely meet and interact with others for whom English is not their first (or second…) language.  My students agreed, but they had paid to hear a fluent speaker. Besides, they negotiated language during our speaking activities anyway, they said.

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