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Handout Addiction in ESL classrooms – ditch the crutches, dude!

Hi, guys, I just wanted to share this incredible ESL insight I had in my last class.

As you know, I refuse to have students sitting around doing grammar exercises from Murphy because it’s so booooooooring! That means everything we do is oral – with long lists of cool conversation questions that force them to use specific constructions. I’ve always had the illusion that this was a very useful exercise until one class I couldn’t make copies and I had to read the questions out – drill style.

Get rid of the crutches - ditch the paper, dude!!!!!!!!

This is when i realised, that the tense that seemed so rock solid was actually pebble loose. Both their ability to listen to and reproduce the tense was severely impaired.

What does this mean in ESL terms? it means that they had been heavily dependent on the sheet: reading it instead of listening, and using what they saw in the sheet to base their answer on (their visual skills rather than their linguistic skills.)

What was clear, though – when we did it without the sheet – was that it was amuch more stimulating and rewarding exercise as it forced them to use the above mentioned skills. Therefore, given that it increases the value of the exercise and the students find it stimulating, I’d like to recommend to all I-Ling teachers that they do part of such drills without letting students see the questions.

okay, thanks guys…love ya.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Tim April 1, 2010, 7:17 am

    Hi Happy Girl,
    This is a very brave idea, but I’m all for it.
    I work in China where drills and rote learning are the traditions – trying to break that mould, that dependence on teacher oriented lessons, is hard.
    I had to give praise last night to a student who use compensation skills when we were talking about fishing – he referred to the equipment as if he were in a Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn scene – the long stick, thread, a little flag (float), a hook and some food. I love it when students use the language they know in order to communicate.
    Go for it – throw the handouts away… gulp!

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