Gunther Breaux has taught English conversation to Korean university freshmen for 23 years. He’s the author of several EFL textbooks, and has presented at international conferences in China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and the U.S. His original thought and contribution to English Education is Conversation-Based Learning. PlanGBro@gmail.com
Korean students score at the top of the world in math and science and much lower in English speaking ability. Why? In math class, they have a math test. In science class, they have a science test. In speaking class, they have a grammar test. With videos, transcripts, and data, this presentation describes a test that is easy to give and grade. It both measures and improves speaking ability. Each student gets extensive personal feedback, and teachers get accurate grading and improvement data. In brief: three students of similar ability have a 17-minute conversation. The test is recorded on students’ phones. Students transcribe just what they said on MS Word, in about 90 minutes. MS Word gives their total words spoken and average number of words per utterance. The first test gives their ability; the second test gives their improvement. This is a communicative test, and MS Word measures precisely how much they communicated.
Stop the insanity. Grammar-based English is failing another generation of students. With videos and ten years of data, this presentation details conversation-based learning from first-day placement test to last-day improvement data. The method is writing for speaking. Writing before speaking improves accuracy; speaking to many partners improves fluency. Students sit in pairs and have "speed dating" conversations. They get a new topic every week and a new partner every seven minutes. Everybody speaks half the time, and half the time their partner is a better speaker. The self-transcribed conversation test completes the system. Students get extensive personal feedback, and teachers get accurate grading and improvement data. In short: students write what they say, talk about what they wrote, transcribe what they said, and correct their own mistakes. Students do all the work. Good. An education is preparation for life, and life is not a grammar test.