Facilitating: Talk Time provides a safe learning environment in which participants can try out their oral English and practice their listening skills. The aim of the ESL Leader should not be to talk, but to facilitate student conversation.
Encouraging conversation: Yes/no questions do not encourage others to speak. Instead, try using words such as "How do you feel about -- ?" and "Can you tell us about --?" Change the question "Do you like ____?" to "What do you think about ____?"
Correcting: Corrections are offered only if the student asks, or if what was said is not comprehensible. Corrections are best given by clarifying and modeling. Ex. Student: "I am very confusing." Leader: "You are very confused?"
Grammar questions: If a Talk Time participant asks a grammar question, feel free to respond if the answer is short and simple (so that it will not disturb the flow of the group's discussion.) If the question is more complex, make a note and let the student know that you will explain at the end of the session.
Dividing into groups: If you have a large group of students with widely divergent levels of English proficiency, it is best to split the group. This is easiest if there are two leaders; but decide ahead of time which level each of you will work with. You can print and color copies of the Level Thermometer to designate tables for each of the groups. You can also occasionally ask students to work in pairs or threes to answer some of the questions.
Mingling: A "mingling" exercise provides both variety and more opportunities for participants to talk in smaller groups. Have everyone move around for 4 - 7 minutes talking to other class members to practice some speech pattern or to gather others' opinions. Example: "Talk to five different people. Ask them: 'What is your favorite season? What do you like about it?'"
Self-Assessment: Periodically assess the amount of talking you are doing, how relaxed and talkative the students are, and how useful and interesting the class materials are. You can use this form, and give it to an ESL Coordinator to help them improve our program.