ESL Small Group Discussion- One Tip to Make it Awesome

ESL students need thinking time

Discussion Questions + Thinking Time

Discussion Starter Questions in Smart Choice, Level 2

In the ESL textbook, Smart Choice: Level 2, there are some small group discussion starters on it. The 4 questions are:

Have you ever met or seen a famous person?
Have you ever been in an accident?
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Have you ever experienced a natural disaster?

(As an aside, the Smart Choice series is a good choice if you’re looking for a simple, 4-skills book for beginner level students. Click on the picture below to buy it now on Amazon).

ESL Small Group Discussion: The One Tip You Need

The key is giving some thinking time!

I think that what can make this activity quite successful is giving students some thinking time before they have to share their story with a partner or the class–2 or 3 minutes works well. I know that if someone asked me to tell a story in Korean, I could maybe do it but not when put on the spot. In fact, I’d be really terrible and would get all flustered and stressed out. If I had a few minutes to look up a word or two in the dictionary and organize my thoughts in my head, it might be possible.

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This two or three minutes for thinking can be used in a lot of cases, especially with beginner-level students. I’ve found that the quality of answers are considerably better when I do this and the students aren’t so reluctant to speak out in class. It also makes it easier to ask follow-up questions since the initial utterance is likely to be something of substance instead of just random things put together in no coherent order.

Try it Out Yourself

Give students some thinking time before they have to speak. But, encourage them just to think in their heads and not write out full sentences because it then becomes a writing activity instead of a speaking one.

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