The goal of learning a language is to communicate. Oral communication skills are fundamental to the development of literacy and essential for thinking and learning. It is the glue that puts all the components of a language together.
Through talk, students not only communicate information but also explore and come to understand ideas and concepts; identify and solve problems; organize their experience and knowledge; express and clarify their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Listening and speaking skills are essential for interaction at home, at school, and in the community. (1)
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” This quote by Benjamin Franklin that rings true in these conversation based learning approach. The students at Santa María del Camino are enhancing their English language skills on a whole new level by becoming involved.
The teachers at Santa María del Camino were able to take a course on Debate in the Classroom before the school year began and are now putting this technique into effect in the English classes, amongst other oral communication activities. Through debate, students learn how to think on their feet, hone their listening and reflection skills as well as improving their speaking. Debate forces students to slow the communication process down to create well thought out opinions, all in English.
By focusing on the three pillars of oral communication (listening, reflecting and speaking) when learning a new language, you accelerate the process because you are doing.
Edgar Dale, an American educationist, created “The Cone of Experience”. It is a model that incorporates several theories related to instructional design and learning processes. During the 1960s, Edgar Dale theorized that learners retain more information by what they “do” as opposed to what is “heard”, “read” or “observed”(2).
Heather Evans | English Teacher
E Dale’s Cone of Experience T – ETSU Homepage www.etsu.edu