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Getting there


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

home again, good day today, but tiring...
today's class started with student questionnaire and task sheets at the back to be collected, and today's prints at the front. The students were busy in the first fifteen minutes doing the vocab sheet, and i wrote up the time schedule for the class on the board:
9:15~9:30 vocab sheets
9:30~9:50 Presentation homework check and discussion
9:55~10:50 Presentation work

Then i worked on the vocab sheet with a student who is new this term, explaining the why and wherefore of the example section, that it be relevant to what's happening in the world now, rather than spurious and vague "his wages are $10 a week" sort of thing.

On the time deadline i insisted on taking all the papers, irrespective of whether students had finished checking or not, because fifteen minutes is ample time and they tend to get lax, thinking they can come to class late and dawdle over it.

I asked them to take out the homework, and nobody had done it...what? homework???you just said read it???so i had to give them three minutes to think about it (slotting words in about what is important in presentations...) then I called on students individually to offer an answer, trying to remember and relearn names, and with each correct answer then practicing pronunciation inbetween, snipping my fingers for a chorus repetition. I also expanded a tiny bit for each one, talking about my weekend judging experience for the ESUJ, where one of the debating teams was really upsetting me with loud comments of 'hear, hear' and distracting me with table thumping, so that if they'd only maintained a bit of eye contact, they could easily have seen it was distressing me. And warning them that clothes and presence were really important for a presentation, so to get those business shirts ironed! (Tiny groans of protest here..looks of disbelief, but I will add it to the rubrics!)

Ok, and so for the mini-discussion of what you think is most important in a presentation, five odd minutes reviewed last term's technique, agree with an absolutely, definitely or exactly, an I suppose so or a you may be right, repeat what it is you are agreeing with, and add a new aspect. I also went round and worked with three different people, who all seemed to have it down really well, was pleased.

Five minute break, and we began by quickly brainstorming ideas for techniuqes on how to deal with nervosity: breathe, one student offered, then i added simply tell your audience that you are nervous and ask for understanding, also mimicked a nervous highpitched voice and said speak lower and really slowly, then we moved on to listening for the difference between conversational spoken English and presentation English, students checking boxes.

They noticed that a presentation is slower, and then we listened to a speech marking for pauses, so that they realized there are far more pauses, and finally highlighting emphasized words. I checked the pauses by holding up one or two fingers as I spoke again, so that they could check their answers, and for the emphasis i held up a red piece of chalk to show which words they should have highlighted.

Then I asked one of the students to time me, first just speaking conversation style on the now familiar speech, and then with teh pausesw and emphasis. Conversation style took 37 seconds, presentation style took 1 minute 42 seconds, and finally i robot speeched the text to show that emphasis alone is not enough, that you also have to modulate your voice up and down, for things you want to stress.

These ideas were all seemingly new to the students. We dashed on, me firmly holding the reins, and i modeled a teamwork speech playing two roles as students looked for repetition, rhetorical questions, and the like. This introduced techniques for highlighting particular important themes in the presentation. Last but not least we looked at phrasal verbs which help link up parts of the presentation and the role they played. These ideas were all not mine, but liberally applied from Macmillan's 'IN COMPANY' Intermediate, which I recommend and which is excellent.

Homework then was to think of which of five topics they wanted to present on, all five chosen from the new textbook for this term, Thomson's 'FINANCIAL ENGLISH' :
  1. Accounting
  2. Annual General Meetings
  3. Exchange rates
  4. Bonds
  5. Leveraged Buyouts

These were chosen to scaffold their use of questions in a presentation to share the information flow, because all these texts are in conversation Q&A format, so that they can have an introductory speaker, Q&A speakers and a final summary speaker for their presentation.

Homework was also to finish working on the presentation phrases which were in quiz format, and then I praised them for working intently and well, and we all streamed out of the class. I get the feeling they will do the homework, as they all seemed to enjoy the new realizations about presentations and what things to notice.