Teaching communication skills to internationally trained professional students has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my teaching career. My students have years of experience and vast knowledge in their areas of expertise, yet when it comes to communicating the simplest thoughts and ideas, they often seem to be challenged; confidence and language barriers could be the two biggest reasons behind this challenge.
The curriculum that I teach requires students to present only twice over the span of 4 months. This semester, however, I have started providing my students with more opportunities to present without making it an official presentation task. I have named this approach “Reading & Presenting Circles.” The results have been stellar, so I thought I should share the approach with my TESL Blog community. The class I have implemented the Reading and Presenting Circle approach in is 18 weeks, and I meet my students twice a week.
Students get into groups of four or five and I assign an article to each group for every class. After reading their assigned article, they have to summarize the main ideas of the article into five points in a PowerPoint slide with a link to the article.
We start every class with students joining their assigned group, taking turns and sharing their five main points. Next, the groups develop a list of ten main ideas from the article they have read. They also have to choose a group representative who will share three of their shared main ideas and keep the remaining seven ideas as a backup.
Every group will send their representative to present their three main ideas to the whole class. The groups will have read different articles on the same topic, so there might be ideas that overlap. The first group has the liberty of sharing any three points chosen. It gets more challenging for each successive group representative as presenters should not be sharing ideas that have already been mentioned by the previous groups. This is the purpose of having seven backup ideas. In case the previous groups state a similar idea in the top three, the current representative would use their backup ideas. The group members remain the same for the semester, and there is no specific order in which the groups present. To keep it fair, I, as their instructor, choose the order in which the groups present every time.
Top reasons to start a reading & presenting circles
Students will have the opportunity to:
- Reading 32 articles by the end of the class
- Practicing their summarizing skills
- Presenting to their peers in groups
- Collaborating in teams to choose the 10 key points of the article
- Presenting in front of an audience (their whole class)
- Practicing their listening skills so that they do not repeat the same ideas mentioned by other group representatives
- Engaging in teamwork and critical thinking
- Learning new vocabulary through reading more articles
- Building confidence through the minor presentation opportunities
What opportunities do you provide for your students to develop their presentation skills and build their confidence?