The art of discussion is an important part of English learning. It gives L2 students the ability to produce their own material based on their thoughts and opinions as opposed to simply stating and repeating information and memorising grammatical structures.
Discussions are an excellent method to encourage students of all ages to express themselves, as well as give them a lot of speaking practice.
However, the main focus for the assignment is to create an article that will help pre-intermediate to advanced L2 learners. For this group, it is important to dedicate time in lessons and sessions to discuss the topics they have learned so that the students have the time and knowledge to practice organising their thoughts and express their views.
The lesson plan (appx. 1) will therefore focus on reading the chosen articles, debating on the information and giving and receiving opinions and advice. These are some of the more typical examples of when discussion activities are more likely to be conducted.
It is important to choose a topic that is appealing to the students. Reading articles related to current events, latest technology, travel, fashion, hobbies, etc. may be appropriate for classes. The articles can be used to practice pronunciations, introduce new vocabulary, and lead into discussions. For example, an article about football can lead to questions such as; ‘do you like football?’, ‘who is your favourite team?’, ‘who is your favourite player?’ and then further on to more complex questions such as ‘do you think football is getting more or less popular? why?’
In this retrospective, students can be asked a lot of questions based on their responses, it also encourages other students to ask questions as well.
Discussions are often more challenging in bigger classes as there are a lot of times when students are not speaking. Teachers may want students to work in groups to discuss and present material on a specific themes, etc.
With smaller classes, it is easier to conduct discussions. However it is left to the teacher to prepare more questions for these lessons as the students may move through the material a lot more quickly.
There are a lot of phrases and vocabulary that goes along with debating, but only introducing a few new things each time during such a situation in lessons will allow students to focus on the lesson topic while building their vocabulary. Phrases such as ‘I agree/disagree with you, but/because...’ or ‘I see your point, however...’ are appropriate.
For giving advice, one of the best activities would be to ask each student to write down their problems and submit them anonymously at the beginning of the class. This way, the advice given during the lesson is sure to relate to the issues that the students may be dealing with. This activity will relate personally with the issues the students are dealing with and thus give much more relevance to any activity a teacher can come up with. Both the teacher and students can give advice to the anonymous students problems. Some advices can be open for discussion, this provides a lot of speaking practice that relates to a students real life situation.
With this in mind, the article used in the class will be based on discussion.
The worksheet (appx. 1) is an activity based on a recent disaster that happened in Fukushima, Japan on March 11th, 2011. This topic can not only be used as a discussion topic, but also as an activity to teach English for a specific purpose; for students studying ecological issues and the influence of people. The second part of the worksheet has questions which are designed to stimulate discussion.
This worksheet is for pre-intermediate to advanced level students whom have a steady grasp on the English language and are in need to increase their vocabulary and strengthen their pronunciations. This is also aimed for intermediate to advanced students who are either visiting or