[quote=“bob”]This is going to sound incredibly simplistic I imagine (and has nothing to do with conflict neccessarily) but one of the best things I have ever done is called “What is new and exciting?” Basically I tell them that I am going to ask them this “every” class and then I actually do ask them “every” class. They are guaranteed an opportunity to talk about anything they want, and I do mean anything. They got a new carpet installed, their boyfreind murdered the dog, they are going to attend a lecture on bio-technology tomorow… I honestly don’t care but I do expect them to decide what they want to talk about and to think about whatever it is they have to say about that topic. Of course you can make sandwhiches out of whatever they have to say, introduce vocab, do pop ups, correct grammar, run them round the language circle, write a bizzaro little story out of whatever they say, all the usual. I don’t even care if they say whatever it is they want to say in English as long as a serious attempt is made, by the class, to translate whatever they said. It is a team effort and is presented as such. Eventually what happens is that people get to actually know something of each other’s lives and conversation builds naturally, and like natural conversation, totally at random.
I further explain that the onus is definitely “not” just on me to be interesting or entertaining. It is too easy for them to sit there and watch us doing contortions trying to impress and all they do is sit there passively negative. Wrongo boyo I tell em. It’s your turn.
I’ve been doing this for years and it works brilliantly. All you have to do is really insist on it. A lot of my best classes are nothing but “What is new and exciting?”[/quote]
Small b bob, what a great idea. Simplicity personified.
Let me ask you this: Do you make this a presentational exercise, as in 1 student in front of all? I ask because I’ve discovered that the benefits of confidence building in such a stand and deliver exercise only works with my advanced students. The intermediate and beginner ones benefit more from being paired off and having conversations with each other. No pressure to perform. No threat of making a mistake=loss of face. Just a simple L2 environment.
I do love the question though. May I use it?
Now, as to the thread title. By creating conflict and unresolvable situations, the students are forced to keep coming up with ideas and ways to express them. The situation I detailed in the OP was for more advanced students but there are many variations that can be applied.
Another “conflicted” situation I like to use is store clerk, disgruntled customer. I have the customer attempt to return a pair of recently purchased socks (a hole in one) without a receipt. The clerk is under strict instructions from the laoban to never accept any returns without a receipt.
Another scenario is the “late for a job interview” scenario. The interviewee must attempt to get a second interview even though they are 20 minutees late for their initial appointment.
While your scenario is a cool, thought provoking situation, I fear it requires acting skills beyond the scope of 99.9% of the students. Also, it’s my ho that keeping the groups to 3 maximum is optimal. I think your scenario and others like it could work with a class specifically trained and sufficiently rehearsed in improv techniques. Still, a good scenario for discussion purposes, to be sure. Just don’t think they’d have the wherewithal to “act” that one out.