How to make students speak in English by conducting Conversation Circle activities

How to make students speak in English by conducting Conversation Circle activities


Can you recapitulate what you have learned from the previous article - The 6 steps of reciting rhymes in the English Nali-Kali classroom?

Let me recall the discussions for you in brief!

We discussed the Rhyme segment of ENK, and in that, you came to know the following things:

  • Rhymes are useful for learning a language in a non-threatening way.
  • Rhymes in the ENK are based on the themes and reinforce topics known to children.
  • Rhymes help develop pronunciation, tone, and stress, and rhythmic patterns and improve vocabulary.
  • Do not allow students to shout. Focus on pronunciation, clarity, and fun.
  • There are 6 steps to follow while reciting rhymes.

In this article, you will learn how Conversation Circles can help children both understand and respond in English.

Conversation Circles:

One of the best ways to learn a language is by speaking it continuously. When children speak in their mother tongue in an informal situation they do not speak in whole sentences. Instead, they speak in phrases that convey the meaning. This is true for English as well.
Conversations are used to help children both understand and respond in English. In English Nali-Kali (ENK) children engage in asking and answering simple questions in everyday situations.

In usual exercise, questions may be the same but answers will have some variation –e.g. what is your name? what is your father’s name? 

There are 2 parts to each conversation - 

The first is the greetings section. In year 1 the exchanges focus on general greetings such as good morning, afternoon goodbye, etc. In the second year, the focus is more on formulaic expressions such as hello, please thank you, sorry, etc.

The conversation exchanges are divided into 2 parts with 2 sets of related exchanges (what is your name? how old are you? where did you go? What did you see there?) leaving children to fill in the details at the end of each answer. 

What is a Conversation Circle?

In ENK children are given opportunities to ask questions and respond appropriately and helps them to speak in a natural way rather than in formal sentences. A conversation circle is a way that helps children hear the conversation repeatedly.
Conversation in ENK supports children to meet the NCERT outcome that - children can respond appropriately in English to greetings and use polite forms of expression.

Steps in Conversation Circle

Let us look at how Conversation Circle is conducted stepwise. These steps are taught over four weeks. 

The schedule and sequence in which Conversation Circle is conducted are given clearly in the teacher card. The teacher is expected to follow the guidelines given in the teacher card.

How to make students speak in English by conducting Conversation Circle activities
A Sample 'Teacher Card'

Step 1: The teacher introduces the greetings in English and explains their meaning and their appropriate usage. For example, Good Morning is to be said in the morning and Happy Birthday is to be said to a person celebrating his/her birthday. The teacher then demonstrates the greetings and ensures that it is used every day at the beginning of the class and students are wished on their birthdays.
Step 2: The teacher explains the question and answer process and explains each question and answer in Kannada. Then the teacher practices the question and answers in English with all students together
Step 3:  Students stand in a circle and begin the conversation circle with each student asking the fellow student on the right, the first question. The student answers the question and turns to his/her right to ask the same question to the next student. Students practice the question and answer routine around the circle as many times as necessary.

Watch this video to understand the steps clearly!

Do's and Don'ts

  • Be very clear and articulate and begin with the mother tongue so that children understand what is being asked and answered. 
  • Repeat the Q&A sequences a number of times before starting on the circle.
  • As far as possible accompany the questions with actions. 
  • When children are not sure they will tend to mumble or eat some of the words. Help these children by repeating the sentences word by word. 
  • Make sure that you move around the group and support children who are not able to say.
  • Sometimes other children get impatient and go ahead with the circle forcing the shy child to keep quiet – do not let this happen. Hold the game until the child is able to say the phrases. 
  • Remember that children often need to hear words and phrases many times before they feel ready to produce them themselves, so do not be discouraged if children take time to initiate the conversation.

Let us see how the complete activity is done in the classroom. Watch the video!

Let us sum up 

  • One of the best ways to learn a language is by speaking it continuously. 
  • Conversations are used to help children both understand and respond in English. The earliest form of conversation in ENK is the question-answer format where children learn to both questions as well as answer.
  • There are 2 parts to each conversation; the first is the greetings section and the second is the conversation exchanges.
  • Conversation circles follow 3 steps.

Download the module: Conversation Circle

Credits: Samagra Shikshana Karnataka and UNICEF


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