“Our vision is more obstructed by what we think we know than by our lack of knowledge.” Kristen Stendahl

Student feeling unappreciated


I had a helpful dialogue with a student who felt like she was unappreciated by me. I'm putting the e-mail conversation we had in a document called Student_feeling unappreciated.

She misunderstood the marks that she had got in the oral presentation but that came about because of an underlying feeling that I hadn't appreciated her work during the semester. In fact I do notice her and think that I do give her recognition for her hard work and collaboration (as a mature student). So this was important feedback for me to see that she didn't. What started as an angry email from her turned out to be a productive dialogue between us.

Categories: Testimonies Reflections


Blog comments aren't working


Several people have told me that they haven't been able to leave a comment on this blog. I will check out what the problem is ... logo possível!

This is the post I put on the Inglês Empresarial discipline blog that the students read:
I felt very proud to see some of the oral presentations on Friday. I didn't see anyone who couldn't give a presentation in front of a professional audience in English. I really respect those students who are not confident to speak but who who persist during the semester, who ask for help in the preparation of their presentation, and who practice so much that they are able to give a perfectly understandable, enthusiastic and informed presentation.

In fact I have noticed that students who are less confident in the language often do better than those who are very confident. That must be because they pay attention to all the details - the structure, the content and the interaction with audience. People who start by thinking they know how to speak well in English sometimes forget that speaking language without making mistakes is NOT the same as giving a good presentation. I should know! How many terrible presentations I have seen given by people whose first language is English!!

Category: Production

Learning through coaching


It works every time. I put the students in groups of four and get them to select one of the topics we've covered during the semester to prepare a group presentation. Then I ask who are the three most confident people in the group at giving a presentation.

I tell them that those three (the most confident) are now responsible for coaching colleague number four to give the presentation they are about to prepare. One coach is to have overall responsibility for making sure the presentation has a good structure, another for the language and the other for their colleague's interaction with audience.

I then sit back and watch as they work together to prepare the fourth member of the group - who begins by being terrified and hugely reluctant to do it. I watch myself and the semester's preparation I've given the students being re-enacted as they write, encourage and enthuse to get the fourth member to give a good presentation.

In their preparations I direct any suggestions I have to the responsible coach, not to the member who is going to present.

It always comes together and the fourth member gives the presentation to beams of pride from the other members of the group and lots of clapping. When I give my comments I direct them to the three coaches - "you were responsible for the language, you could have prepared him better with his pronunciation of the word success", "you were responsible for the structure - what happened to her conclusion?" etc.

One day I'd like to develop the idea of evaluating students on how well they manage to coach each other.

Categories: Productions, Reflections
Tags: ,

"A good story" - same criteria, different wording


Instead of emphasising the formal criteria for the oral presentation (as I usually do) I've started talking about it being a good story. So, for example I have said:

A good story is a presentation that:
• keeps the audience interested (it is informed and gives us a new perspective);
• impresses the audience (you know the topic well, using “expensive” language and speaking enthusiastically about it);
• explores questions (and does not merely repeat “answers” written by other people);
• paints a picture of the context (telling us why this is a problem or interesting case in Portugal);
• is easy-to-follow (has a good structure, signposts and linking words);
• makes the audience believe in you (because you look them in the eyes, smile and communicate with them!)

I'll be interested to see if this gets more students taking on an identity of someone giving a presentation (i.e. "being" a presenter) rather than going through the motions of giving a presentation to get a high score on the evlaution.

I'm using Zoho writer to share documents - so this oral presentation task should now appear on the Zoho doc roll down on the right of the blog and here: "Oral presentation_final". It's in beta and it's the first time I've used it, so I wait to hear if there are any problems:

Category: Artifacts
Tags: ,

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  • I'm bev trayner
  • From Setubal, Portugal
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