Sep 16

How to use student-generated content in language learning


Get language students sharing ..

Introducing The Activity

This example is drawn from my practice over more than 27 years teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) or English Language a Teaching (ELT).  It is a simple activity and very easy to set up.  It's very transferable to the teaching of any language.

In this example, I am aiming to get students practising the use of adverbs, and, in part, I am seeking to test their grasp of how we use adverbs  in English.  This is just an example.  The teacher can focus on any other grammatical or lexical form

So, for instance, I've done this activity around:

  • adjectives
  • irregular verbs
  • phrasal verbs
  • pronouns
  • different sorts of buildings.
  • and .. with upper inermediate + students, even idioms

... and lots more besides.

The Activity Itself

I am going to outline the activity action-by-action   Just so you get the idea   It can be sdapted and focused, as I said, on whichever word firm or grammatical item you wish to focus on ... or, the curriculum is requiring you to focus on!

The steps are:

  1. Ask students to shout out a noun ...
  2. write the first noun students shout out on your board
  3. Ask students to shout out an adverb ...
  4. write the first adverb you hear on your board
  5. Ask students to shoot out a verb (for a focus on adverbs .. you need to ensure students have come up with some verbs ..)
  6. write the first verb you hear on your board.
  7. Ask students to shout out an adverb
  8. write the first adverb you hear on your board.
  9. Ask the students to shout out a verb/noun/preposition/???
  10. write the first verb/noun/preposition/??? you hear up on the board
  11. Repeat ... Repeat .....
  12. Once you have enough words on your board ... then you tell the students what they are to do with their words.  (It's important not to tell them this up-front as if you do it will drive what they shout out, or at least that's what I've found.  Feel free to vary at your leisure or as you prefer!).   You can either ask students to use all the words on the board -their collective words - in a) a story worked on together in pairs or small groups OR b) in a dialogue (if a pair) or short play (if a small group).   Explain, once finished, they are going to share with their classmates.
  13. Set a time limit, monitor and facilitate as needed.
  14. Ask student pairs or groups to share their finished piece with you and the class.

(NOTE: By 'board' above, I mean anything from a traditional blackboard or whiteboard to a smartboard or computer projection screen .. And anything in between..!)  

A significant side-benefit from this activity I have found is that by setting students loose on the creative final part, you can then see where  they have weaknesses or misunderstanding around the use of your target language form.

Working together can be fun ... and can support learning in the language learning classroom.

Working together can be fun ... and can support learning in the language learning classroom.

Enjoy and adapt as needed ..

As ever, feel free to adapt and tweak/amend  this activity as needed in your teaching context   The basis is simple.  Get students to generate random language.   Use this student-generated content to feed into students' own creative and collaborative production and output.

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