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Thailand chatter

Influential foreign-affairs publication The Diplomat took note at the weekend of Thailand's increasing economic embrace by and of China, as ified in a Bangkok visit at the time by Premier Li Keqiang. Various development projects, including those along and about the regionally ificant Mekong River, were on the agenda. One context of these expanding discussions is a chill in official Thai relations with the U.


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Thailand, as I may have already mentioned, is not a quiet country. The students in my classrooms are not quiet either, though some of them can be shy. They are a tight-knit and chattery group.

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And the chatter is, of course, in Thai. Student chatter in the classroom is a topic for all teachers everywhere. One possibility is that their talk is unrelated to what I am teaching.

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They are talking about something else. Maybe they are bored, either because the lesson is tedious, too easy, or too hard. Or perhaps there is some other topic that is just going to be more compelling to them no matter what teacher does. One of the questions teachers are always asking themselves is whether the lesson is on target — too easy or too hard.

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This can be especially hard to gauge in an EFL classroom. Another possibility is that they are talking about the lesson… they are explaining, translating, making sense of what is happening, either for themselves or for another student.

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This is the more interesting situation for me. My goal, after all, is to help students acquire as much English as possible, and it may be that at times their Thai chatter is forwarding that goal more than if they sat silently. One thing Thailand chatter really try to discourage my students from doing is translating for one another when the other is on the cusp of understanding.

Because I forbid myself to speak Thai in the classroom, a well placed translation by one student can help another build the context of the English I am speaking. Another consideration with chatter is self-talkers. Some students seem to need to constantly verbalize as part of their learning.

This is especially true with young kids, aged preschool and grades K-2 or 3, though I know a few adults who do it. While a low stress, happy classroom is important in all learning, research shows it to be especially important in second or third language environments. I am trying to create an English immersion environment in my classroom but I am in the minority. Creating this environment is very time and energy intensive and requires me to be an actor, storyteller, and magician.

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But the fruits of the approach are well worth it. In theory. Now time for a pop quiz. Here is a video of my Anuban 1 class, mostly 4 year olds.

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Part way through the alphabet Win, on the right, starts up a little chat-chat. What would you say is the nature of this chatter and what should teacher do about it? Pingback: Getting the kids talking!

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Check here to Subscribe to notifications for new posts. One Response to chat chat chatter Pingback: Getting the kids talking!

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