Can chatting be a lesson or is it just being lazy?

It’s has been a while, hasn’t it? I have been busy with life and haven’t had edu-blog post inspo for a while now, but I am back which means I have a ramble for you. I actually have a ramble and loads of rhetorical or not so rhetorical questions.

I took time off and my learners were taught by ‘cover’ teachers. I came back and got my students back.
When I had my first lesson with one of my students, I asked her what she had been up to.
She said,
I had lessons with a lovely lady and we were talking a lot. It did not feel like a lesson. I did not feel like I learnt a lot. I am glad I am back with you.
That got me thinking about lessons that are chatty. Lessons that may focus on having a conversation with a student but where there is no actual material or maybe the learner feels like there is no material….
Is that a lesson?
Can it be called a lesson?
When can having a conversation, be called a lesson?
Speaking- chatty- conversational sessions
First, of all what is the definition of these sessions? Well, in my context as an online teacher, conversational sessions can be a chat with a student about whatever the student wants to talk about. They can be based on a video or article you read together or the student watched/ read alone.
Is this (the chat bit) teaching unplugged? Is it being more adventurous with your lessons or just being lazy?
In your own context is chatting with your student a lesson or not?
Here is what I think. During my so called convo sessions, you do not necessarily need to have handouts when having a speaking session (like the one I defined earlier). What you do need though is some kind of structure and maybe even a mentioning of what the aim of the session is.
For example,
Today we will be chatting about your everyday life. I want you to talk to me about your daily routines. I will point out any grammar or vocabulary points which I will note down for you or which I would like you to take note of.
OR
Today we will be watching a short video and we will talk about what it showed. We will also discuss A, B, C.
If you say something like that, the student will know that there is some kind of purpose to the lesson (that is advice to new teachers I guess).
When a speaking session is based on an article or video it is more structured and can be viewed more like a lesson.
But what about when it is more conversational?
Chatting with a student and not making any language comments is not really learning…. or is it? When you are chatting, do you interrupt to make language comments or do you just go with the flow? Is that learning though? What does the student learn? Does the paying student feel like it is a lesson… or it isn’t.
You, as a teacher may feel like you are teaching when you repeat/ rephrase what the learner said without pointing out any mistakes, but is the learner getting that? What I mean is, is your learner noticing that you have made a correction? How do you know?
So, if you decide to have a chat, what can be learnt from the chat?

Well, as I said, you need to make the chat look more like your normal sessions:

  • Mention aims/ purpose etc.
  • Make notes of whatever language is learnt/ corrected
  • Ask the student to reflect on the conversation. What did s/he do well, what do they need to work on?
  • Ask the student to summarise your chat or visualise it!!Make a mind map of what you discussed.

I think I may have lost my blog mojo, but I did have a few thoughts on this and wanted to share, get your thoughts. So, the comments section is all yours.

Till next time…

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3 thoughts on “Can chatting be a lesson or is it just being lazy?

  1. Hi, it’s good to see you back! I didn’t normally use to plan a whole lesson around chatting, but in the private sector I was never really constrained by the curriculum so if a student was feeling chatty, we could go with that. I remember some students who were really quiet and needed to build up their confidence re speaking, so just getting them to chat for 10 minutes (with a bit of correction like pointing over my shoulder to indicate that a verb should go in the past tense) I think made them feel like they’d achieved something. Making a note of new language and/or corrections is something I also used to do with 121 students. Summarizing a chat is a great idea – I never did this and would definitely like to try it out. What do your students think of doing a summary?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Interesting topic and read. I’ve thought about that one a lot, and I agree with a lot of the things written in that article. Chatting is fine – as long as the student is satisfied with that type of lesson and they are getting something from you (the teacher) in return in terms of language development. I’ve been a language teacher of conversation for a long time, as well as a student of conversation lessons, and sometimes as the student I’m more than happy just chatting about my weekend, day, holidays, work, etc. in ‘chatting’ lessons, but I like it when situations where I can’t think of a word or how to say something correctly, my teacher shows me the right way to say it. I always write down new things I learn during the lesson and then go back and review it. This actually helps me immensely – it shows me how to use the language in real life situations, which is what I need.

    Liked by 2 people

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