Wednesday, December 9, 2009

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Recorded Native Speaker Interviews

This past semester, I've been requiring all my students to do a weekly interview with a native speaker. Here's the process:
  1. Students write 5-8 main questions they'd like to ask a native speaker about our weekly topic (eg, diet & nutrition, study skills, technology, relationships, etc)
  2. Students each meet with their peer mentor to review the grammar, vocabulary, and appropriateness of their questions.
  3. Students find a native speaker to interview.
  4. They RECORD the interview using a laptop, digital recorder, or cell phone.
  5. They upload their mp3 or wav file to Blackboard.
Follow-up Activities
When I have the time in class, I like to do follow-up activities with these audio files. In the computer lab, students can access and listen to each others' interviews.
  • Listen and take notes on the native speaker's answers
  • Check for ACTIVE LISTENING SKILLS -- self and peer evaluation for verbal responses, follow-up questions, clarification questions, and paraphrasing skills.
I've found that my students need a lot of work with active listening skills. They often go from question to question without really listening to what the person is saying.

For example, "My first question is what do you think about final exams?" -- "I hate them." -- "Oh really? Me too. Okay, next question. How do you study for your final exams?" -- "I don't really." -- "Oh. Ha ha. Okay, next question..."

Having students listen again to their interviews and analyze their responses can be helpful, especially if I give them a second chance to interview someone else using the same questions. And sometimes I find that their problems result in the use of too many closed questions, so I let the students re-write them.