Question nº2: Record a group of students performing a communicative activity.
Comment: As I do not have a device to record a lesson I chose to analyse a video of an English class from Youtube. It is great for visual people like me because we can pay attention to many things. Three different activities are shown, I analysed the second one, it starts at minute 3:00. Below the video, there is the analysis. Well, enjoy!
• To what extent does the activity encourage or oblige participation from all of the students?
As it is a game, learners are encouraged by the activity to participate so that they can compete and win points for their teams. However, I can see that some students are sitting or waiting on one corner of the room so in this case, it does not demand the participation of all them at the same time. They seem to be taking turns because they are playing in pairs. But I think that it can be easily changed so that all of them can play at the same time. Either the student who is defining a word can speak to a larger team or there can be four groups playing at the same time.
• What examples can you find of conversational adjustments as students try to negotiate meaning, for example, asking for and giving clarification, repetition, further explanation through paraphrasing?
Students do not make many adjustments when speaking, but I could hear one of them paraphrasing when he starts defining the word “coffee-table”. He begins by saying `you need..´ and then he immediately says `you can find it …´ so this can be one example of an adjustment in conversation. Another adjustment can be that the four of them made gestures to explain more clearly.
• What examples can you find of students correcting each other?
The teacher seems to be in charge of correcting and checking everything in the game. There is only one case in which a student answers that coffee-tables are found in the kitchen and immediately the other learners correct him by saying “Living-room!”. A possible way to give them the chance to correct each other can be to assign them to do it after the opposing team has answered, or even the students who are just looking at the game can be the ones who can correct that.
• How would you comment on the general level of accuracy in the students´ language?
This activity is quite free because learners can resort to any language structures to be able to communicate. This language course seems to be pre-intermediate so I think that the level of accuracy in their language was quite high because they do not find many problems when describing words.
• If the activity had a focus on some area of grammar or use of vocabulary, to what extent did this appear in the students´ language?
The focus of the game was to practise vocabulary related to parts and objects of the house. These items appear a lot in their answers because the activity makes them do it. Apart from that, the teacher asks more questions to reinforce some other vocabulary when they did not use it.
• When you have considered these points, decide whether you think it was an activity worth doing, and why? Would you change anything in a re-run of it?
I like the activity because it is very useful for lower levels as it does not require specific structures so learners can feel free to decide what to say to define words. If it is a beginners course they can just resort to words instead of sentences. When we have an advanced course we can make it more challenging by asking them to use specific structures, for example relative clauses, or to define phrases like idioms, proverbs, etc. What I would change in this game is the fact that some students were just observing. If I there is a large class, the activity can be done in two or three big groups. If there are not many students there can be four groups playing at the same time and the teacher can monitor the two competitions. Anyway, it is a nice oral activity to start or finish our lessons.