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Seeking help – advanced English students

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  • galain
    5 May, 2011 at 13:11
    • Total posts: 2

    Hi All

    I’m glad to have found this forum because I fear I am fast running out of ideas.

    I have a few English classes I teach – of various levels. The most challenging one sounds like the easiest – Advanced English Conversation based on texts. This is a company paid course so all participants are working for the same medical tech. company (in varying capacities from sales through to technical development).

    The problem I have is that the standard of English is exceptionally high. Grammar is uniformly perfect – these people just want to speak. However, they made it plain from the beginning, that they didn’t appreciate their last teacher trying to get them to do things like debates because "we’re not in school anymore, we’ve worked a long day before we come here and don’t want to be treated like we’re still in school". Ok – fair enough.

    I do my best to source interesting articles, and sometimes I have great success and an engaging 90 min class, and sometimes I have dead hanging silence. A couple of times I have written elaborate, moral dilemma type scenarios, which have worked well, but after awhile, there are only so many places you can go with the "this person gets the job/new heart/ lungs/etc etc" scenario, or the "this is the right/wrong thing to do" scenario. They have told me they enjoy this type of class, but they get bored easily.

    Tonight I’m presenting team vs team games involving solving lateral thinking puzzles – I have no idea how this will be received.

    If anyone has been in a similar situation, I would dearly love to hear what you did, or to hear any advice or ideas whatsoever. The students are nice, but each week is a mild panic for me because I worry that nothing has happened in the news that they’ll have an opinion on, or that whatever I bring won’t be stimulating enough. About half the class speak at native speaker level and just want practice, and they all have little to no grammar issues – it’s mainly a vocab learning exercise for the rest of them.

    If anyone can throw me a bone, I may be inclined to name my firstborn after you!

    many thanks

    6 May, 2011 at 9:46
    • Total posts: 149

    Reply To: New here – seeking help re: advanced English students

    I can see how it might be difficult. Have you tried a quick needs analysis to see what kind of subjects interest the students? Perhaps a good proportion of them are interested in particular subject you’ve never even thought of exploring in class (you never know, you might have the glitterati from the local pot holing society in there!).

    There might also be a few ideas for your here: http://teflworldwiki.com/index.php/Cate … Activities

    ICAL Quality Online TEFL Training since 1998

    8 May, 2011 at 16:55
    • Total posts: 2

    Reply To: New here – seeking help re: advanced English students

    Thanks for the reply ICAL_Pete. I’ll have a look at your link as soon as I get a minute.

    Actually, the very first thing I discussed with the class was what they were hoping to get out of it, which was when they all told me what they didn’t want (I’m in Germany – starting with negative stuff is normal here!).

    Most of them have English in their backgrounds – either as bilingual school students or from time spent overseas, and they need English in their jobs, so for them it was really just a matter of wanting to keep using it. However, they don’t speak if it’s a topic that doesn’t capture their interest. I’ve asked and they liked the moral dilemma type stuff, but I’m having trouble finding ways to keep that particular angle fresh and original. Like I said in my previous post, there are only so many "only one person can receive the job, heart, surrogate child" type scenarios that I can keep putting together before it all winds up being somewhat same-y.

    Thanks for your suggestions.

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