Presenting the World
A paper written by me and Adam Pearson, Presenting the World: Country poster presentations, was published in The Language Teacher, a journal produced by JALT Publications. July 2016, Volume 40, No. 4, pg. 15-16. Adam and I wrote the paper in the spring of 2015. Alternate file formats: PDF & ePub. The fact sheets are here.
|Keywords:||Presentations, peer-teaching, foreign geography, foreign culture|
|Learner English level:||Junior high school and up|
|Learner maturity:||Junior high school and up|
|Preparation time:||5 minutes|
|Activity time:||30-40 minutes|
|Materials:||Handouts (see appendices), blackboard or projector and screen|
Presentations are common activities in English conversation classes, but because gathering data is difficult and time consuming, the scope is typically quite narrow. The goal of this activity is for students to develop and deliver a presentation on a foreign country without the burden of research. A presentation can be divided into four parts: information gathering, writing, practicing, and presenting. All of these are important skills, but since doing all of them together can be overwhelming, in English as well as in one's native language, this activity removes the first step, simplifies the second, and allows students to focus on the remaining two.
- Step 1: Print one A3 copy of as many posters (from appendices A-F) as you need in order for each student group to have their own, plus one (Appendix G) for your demonstration. If available, color is preferable to monochrome.
- Step 2: Print one copy of the worksheet (Appendix H) for each student.
- Step 1: Put students in pairs or groups of three. Give each group a poster with information about and pictures of a foreign country.
- Step 2: Give an example demonstration with a poster (Appendix G) about America. This demonstration shows what students are supposed to do and include in their own presentations. Include the country’s name, capital, common languages, population, and size. Presentations can also include descriptions of famous foods and sports, the national flag, and major industries.
- Step 3: Hand out a worksheet (Appendix H) that includes the example demonstration and a blank writing space for the students' presentation. Explain that the rules are: the presentation must start with a greeting and the country name, it must end with a closing phrase, and each student in the group has to say at least three things using information from the poster. Sentences from the example presentation can, with small changes, be used in students' presentations. If students want to formulate new sentences, that is wonderful, too.
- Step 4: Give students fifteen minutes to write their presentations.
- Step 5: Students take five minutes to practice their presentation. The key points are volume, pronunciation, and eye contact. Because this is a one-class activity, perfect memorization is not necessary. Students can use a note sheet, provided they make regular eye contact with the audience.
- Step 6: Each group presents their country to the rest of the class. If the classroom has a projector or large TV, display the poster digitally on that. Alternately, put the group's poster on the blackboard.
- Step 7: (Optional) Conduct a written or oral quiz to check classmates’ attention to and comprehension of what they have watched.
If you have the time, you can do the same project with different countries a few weeks after doing it the first time. Students should be much faster the second time around. A common problem when talking about countries is improper generalization. Consider the statement, “In the U.S., people like to eat pizza.” That's not entirely true, because many people don't. It would be better to say, “Pizza is popular in the U.S.” By carefully choosing how we display the information on the posters, teachers help students avoid this kind of pitfall and simultaneously provide examples of ways to properly make large-scale observations. The vocabulary that students need to deliver these presentations is taught in JHS 3 and above. However, if the topic is changed from “countries” to “foreign schools” or “celebrities”, and new posters are carefully created, the same general procedure can be used with JHS 1 and 2 students.
The appendices are available from the online version of this article at <jalt-publications.org/tlt/departments/myshare>.