Call for NYSTESOL 2002 proposals!

April Main Page
Report from West Tokyo JALT
Featured ESL Professional
Does SLA Theory Really Help?
Creating a Din with the Conversation Bus
Ten Sessions You Must See in Salt Lake
What We Can Learn from Basketball
An Index of ESL MiniConference Stories
Notes and contacts
Search the site

Submit your email,
join ESL MiniConference

ESL MiniConference Online!

Discourse Strategies for Activating Student Discussions
Valley Peters leads first 2002 West Tokyo JALT Meeting

Valley Peters's March 17 workshop started with a small-group discussion where the members of each group were asked to talk about how they would teach a discussion class if they had to. After some time of discussion, members of each group were changed and they were asked to tell different members what they had talked about in their previous group.

Then a video of an example discussion by four people was shown, in which they were discussing what they were going to do for the weekend. After watching the video, the participants in the workshop were asked if they recognized any of the roles taken by the four in the video discussion.

The participants named roles correctly and Valley wrote them down on the black board: Time keeper, Writer, Reporter, Facilitator/Leader.

The participants were then asked to talk about what the duties of these roles were and what typical expressions characterized them. Here again they were divided into groups and were asked to talk about the duties.

Then they were given a worksheet in which there were the four roles, along with expressions used in the video, and the participants were asked to match them, working in groups. Then they were divided into pairs and each pair was given one of the roles and asked to discuss what their role dictated they should do in a discussion.

Lastly, Valley introduced the PPU (Presentation-Practice-Usage) technique which was used in the discussion classes at Tokyo Jogakkan Junior College, where Valley Peters teaches. In this PPU technique, students are each given one of the above roles in small groups (3 to 4 groups of 4 or five students) and are required to discuss a topic fulfilling their duties according to their roles.

At the first stage, presentation, students are given very specific structures to practice, and there is a lot of control over the language they are using.

At the practice stage, distinct discussion roles are less explicitly assigned. Students are still expected to perform them, but the group shares the responsibilities for the roles. For example, the writing role is taken overy by the whole group as they determine at the end of each discussion what was most important for them. As the teacher's control is reduced, students are given increasing freedom to be creative with the language. Once they have learned the structures, they can use them in many different ways.

At the final, usage stage, students have natural discussions in which they participate equally. Each member contributes to the conversation and has the language skills to express themselves and respond to others.

The participants realized at the end of the two-hour workshop that they had been learning how to use the PPU technique by actually discussing discussion, going through the above three stages.

Report by Etsuo Kobayashi, Publicity Chair, West Tokyo JALT

2002 ESL MiniConference Online