A traditional, teacher-directed classroom looks like a church, a lecture hall or any formal gathering of people. A TALK classroom looks more like a party, a restaurant or any other informal gathering.
In a traditional class, the learners are usually focused on one person—the teacher. They work individually a good deal of the time. In a TALK class, learners focus on each other, working together most of the time.
Traditional classrooms tend to be quiet most of the time (except for the teacher and perhaps one or two students). TALK classrooms are almost always noisy, with learners talking in the target language most of the time.
Traditional students usually do the same activity at the same time. Groups of TALK learners are usually doing something different from each other because they’re working at their own pace. The learners are always challenged but never overwhelmed and never bored by material that’s too basic.
Traditional students’ behavior before, during and after class is quite different. TALK learners’ behavior before, during and after a lesson is quite similar.
In a TALK class, smiles and laughter are the rule, not the exception, and they’re not at the expense of other learners, or
in response to someone’s theatrics. They’re there because people are enjoying learning!
TALK needs your creative involvement to make it come alive. Think of yourself as a catalyst, as someone who helps people make it happen for themselves. As you get involved with TALK you will find more and more ways to make the teaching/learning process more rewarding.
Effective learner involvement is assured when classes are divided into small groups of four to six people. Within these groups individuals learn in pairs. Learning in small groups is NATURAL. It takes away the pressure of speaking to a large audience, it allows each group to progress at its own pace, and helps learners become responsible for themselves and their partners.
How do you create a good learning environment? By being the facilitator and letting people learn in small groups. By providing the TALK TOOLS for your learners and giving them the necessary know-how on using them. It’s that simple — no special training is necessary! The facilitator (except in the beginning) is not running the show, but is an integral part of the learning environment.
The TALK Learning Materials are small building blocks in the form of B5 cards and tapes. They are a resource that your learners can choose from, just as they would from a restaurant menu. Because the materials are within a binder it is easy to change and adapt them to fit your circumstances. The materials are specifically created to assist and encourage people to talk freely. Learners are encouraged to lessen their reliance on the materials as they progress.
TALK is designed to encourage self-directed learning. Learners need to have easy-to-understand instructions on using the learning materials. The TALK Study Tips, included with each TALK Learning Set, provide learners with many concrete ideas on how to utilize the TALK TOOLS.
Learners are given the know-how to create their own learning procedures and materials — thus becoming more self-directed and less dependent on the materials and the instructions on how to use them.
EVALUATION & GRADING
In class, as in real life, a multitude of interactions take place at the same time. It is impossible for the facilitator to have DIRECT CONTROL over all these happenings, especially in large classes. Promoting responsibility in the learners by handing them control over some classroom procedures is an exciting aspect of our System. This is especially so in the area of assessment. TALK allows your learners to assess themselves individually at the end of each class. They also have oppor-tunities to evaluate the communicative performances of peers several times during the course. The records the learners keep allow the facilitator to know what’s going on even in large classes.
Without a map it’s easy to lose one’s way. The same is true for language learning. By making a list of concrete activities and quantifying them (how many times, how many hours, etc.) and then connecting them to final grades, your learners get a better view of what is needed to reach their goals. RoadMaps are best made on a semester basis as they may be adjusted according to the learners’ performance and ability.