One of the schools I taught at in Japan was an intensive academic prep program for students getting ready to study in universities abroad.
In the speaking and listening courses, my job was to get the students talking as much as possible, to work on group tasks, and give presentations. One of the best tools I had for this was our textbook, Trends, Business and Culture Reports, as it allowed me to have the students run their own lessons. Here is an example of how I would do it (or rather, how the students would do it) using the reading and exercise pages The Oasis of the Seas.
The day before class I would choose one student to be the “Teacher,” and give him or her the first page of The Oasis of the Seas. The student was to read the story and prepare to lead the class through the reading and exercises on the page.
Before class the next day, the “Teacher” was to write the questions from the Discussion Questions section on the whiteboard.
He or she would then greet the students and make small chit-chat with them for a minute or two, asking them how their evening was the night before, etc. The teacher would then introduce the topic for the day – Traveling – and explain that they were to start by discussing the questions on the board. He or she would then read each question in turn, and ask the students if they have any questions about them. If yes, the teacher would answer the questions, and then say, “Okay, let’s go, up, up, up!”, to which the students would stand up, get into pairs, and discuss the questions, the teacher changing the pairs every 10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes discussion time.
The teacher would then have the students sit down and take out a notebook and pen for dictation. He or she would then ask the students to write the questions as he or she spoke them from the Comprehension Questions section. The students could ask the teacher to repeat the questions as necessary until they had all of the questions written in their notebooks.
Then, the teacher would explain that he or she was going to read twice the story called The Oasis of the Seas, and that they should listen and take notes on a new page in their notebooks. The teacher would then read the story twice while the students listened and took notes. When finished, the teacher would ask the students to get into pairs and work to answer the questions from their notes, stressing that the answers must be complete sentences.
When the students were finished, the teacher would ask the pairs in turn to read and answer the questions. The teacher would not let on whether the answers were correct or not, but respond with, “I see,” or “Really?” or “Okay, interesting.” Then, the teacher would hand out the two pages of The Oasis of the Seas, and ask the students to check their own answers with the reading. Once this was finished and the questions gone over again to make sure of the answers, the teacher would then ask the students to practice the reading aloud in pairs, working on fluency and pronunciation.
By this time, at least half of the 90-minute class period would be finished, and I would then take over, thanking the “Teacher” for his or her work.
I would then move the students through the rest of the exercises in The Oasis of the Seas and end with setting up the Presentation Task section, giving them one week to research one of the famous buildings listed in the section, or one of their own liking (no two students could do the same building), and prepare to give a presentation to the class, covering the information asked for, and other information they think is interesting.
If you try this in class, let us know how your students responded. We’d love to hear from you!