What I do on Sunday mornings or Dasha’s Speaking Club
With language, it’s use it or lose it. Language skills, speaking in particular, go rusty in a flash. Teachers are not an exception here; let’s face it, teachers’ speaking skills deteriorate too (for a variety reasons that I won’t go into now). Sitting around and complaining is a tempting, but counterproductive approach to solving this problem. In this post, I am going to talk about the solution my colleague and I came up with to stop our speaking skills from going rusty.
… It all started
You are now probably wondering who the hell Dasha is. Dasha, officially known as Daria Maslovskaya, is a top-notch English teacher, author of the blog and website Anglofeel. We went to university together.
So, our speaking club...
Being experienced teachers, we knew full well that we needed a foundation and ‘just speaking’ wasn’t going to work. We went for TED talks as these are topical and can easily spark lengthy discussions. Other materials will work too. (We are trying New Scientist today.)
We have gradually arrived at the following procedure, which has proven effective.
First, 2-3 days before the session, we give each other links to talks we find thought-provoking or insightful. As we watch the talks, we take notes of useful vocabulary or ideas we want to discuss. We then put our notes in a collaborative online doc. (I try to create topic word lists, which I write by hand first. I’m going to let you take a peek at one at the end of the post). As we discuss the talks, we do our best to use the words from our word lists. Vocabulary use is pretty much inevitable if you have the words right in front of your eyes and try to use them really hard. Each session lasts 1,5 hours, which is long enough to discuss 2 talks. At first, it was only two of us, Dasha and I, but we are occasionally joined by other people we went to university with.
And that’s it. It’s that simple. Granted, what I am describing now sounds old-school and unoriginal. But I’ll let you in on a little secret - the simplest methods that you put a lot of effort into work better than complicated methods that involve zero effort from you.
The initial purpose of the speaking club was to keep up our English level. Surprisingly, it turned into something more. It became a kind of support group. We discuss how to set and achieve goals, be more productive, develop new habits and things like that. We didn’t intend to at first, but since these are the topics TED talks deal with, we have no choice. More importantly, we support each other in doing those things and hold each other to our intentions. This post is an example of the support group at work.
Can you do it, too? Absolutely! Contact your English-speaking friends, set the time (be strong, no cancellations!), decide on the resources and Godspeed!