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  • Maria Zaheer

Engaging Activities to promote Communication in an EFL classroom


In the previous blog, I shared with you the three pillars of my teaching philosophy, and I alluded to the activities I implemented in my communication classes that enhanced my students’ spoken language comprehension, their verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and as their critical thinking skills. Here, I will begin with sharing the News Sharing activity and the YouTube Binge activity in my communication classes (intermediate level).


I will end up with some takeaway messages reflecting on this experience regarding students’ progress and lessons learned.

1. News Sharing:

In this activity, students act as news reporters. Students choose from VOA English (As It Is - VOA - Voice of America English News (voanews.com)) audio they like (short audios 2-4 minutes), they listen to it at home, and they take notes of the necessary ideas. Finally, they write a summary of the audio where they should add the reason for their choice, what they think of the audio, and the ideas discussed. In class, they present their speeches to the class. Then, students engage in a discussion. The aim of this activity is to develop students’ note-taking as well as summary skills (pre-delivery), speaking and presentation skills (during the delivery time), and critical thinking skills (post-presentation). We end this activity by attributing rewards to the best-discussed topics and the best presenters.

2. The YouTube Binge:

Each week, students watch a YouTube video (TED Talks, motivational speakers, famous public speakers) at home, and they will fill in a follow-up worksheet. This worksheet could differ from one video to the other. However, in every worksheet, students practice note-taking, summary and paraphrase skills, and critical thinking. The choice of videos is motivated by the following reasons. Firstly, they appeal to both auditory and visual students. Secondly, students can develop their listening skills as well as their presentational skills. Thirdly, students can see how a speech is composed. That is, students can see in real situations how to introduce a speech, develop thoughts, and how to conclude a speech. They can also evaluate their presentations and their colleagues based on these videos. Finally, the choice of topics is based on their core projects' themes and majors. Learning skills such as time management, how to learn, etc., are also taken into consideration. Thus, we have videos on social issues, effective daily routines and habits, how to read faster, leadership and taking the initiative, etc. I implicitly tell the technology generation that they can also have fun and learn using these media outlets.


Here are some links to the YouTube videos used in my classes:

  • How to solve a social problem: Rosanne Haggerty at TEDxAmherstCollege -YouTube

  • How To Improve Your LISTENING SKILLS | LBCC Study Skills -YouTube

  • Summary of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey | Free Audiobook-YouTube

  • Start with why -- how great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek | TEDxPugetSound - YouTube

  • How To Double Your Learning Speed | Jim Kwik - YouTube

  • How Ben Franklin Structured His Day - YouTube


Recommendations

Here are some tips for applying for a better implementation of the aforementioned activities:

 It is recommended that we take students’ topic preferences into consideration while preparing so we include them in the decision-making. This makes a big difference.

 It is recommended that early listeners could do some sneak peeks one session before the class discussion time without spoiling the content to arouse the interest of students who are reluctant to do the listening.

 You should clarify the rationale behind the choice of news sharing and the YouTube binge activities to students. Awareness of integrating skills and senses will facilitate their learning, develop their communication skills, and increase their autonomy.


Conclusion

The final takeaway message is that if we would like to help our students change their behavior and acquire skills from what we teach, we should search for what could be inspiring for them, making sure that the integration takes place, bearing in mind the automatization process and acknowledging the power of “why.” Eventually, we need to be patient with our learners, remind them of the why, and make sure that we build a classroom tradition based on trust.

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