Would you like to help those students of yours who prefer to work on their own when they have to prepare a presentation and take things slowly so as to overcome the anxiety they feel when they work under the pressure of having to face an audience? This is one of the reasons why you should try using WhatsApp in your classroom.
The activity I suggest can be used in English and in any content area taught through English.
- Assign each student a topic related to your classroom purposes ( Renewable energy sources, healthy life, your favourite Music, types of plants, types of rocks, helping to protect our planet, the best inventions for humankind, advantages of tourism, etc). Tell them they will have to prepare a short presentation on the topic.
- Hand out a task to each of the students so that they know the questions they have to answer or the information they have to include in their presentation.
- Tell students the deadline so that they prepare their presentation and send it to The class WhatsApp group.
- Share the assessment criteria with them and explain what they mean so that they know what is important in order to get a good mark. You can use this one or another one you prefer for your classroom context.
- Recommend students to use on-line pronouncing dictionaries and text-to-speech tools to help them with vocabulary and pronunciation.
- Once every student has sent his/her recording, listen to them and mark them according to the assessment tool you have chosen.
- Prepare a handout for students with a list of questions that they will be able to answer by listening to their peers' recordings.
- When students come to class after you have done the previous tasks, let them listen to all students' recordings and ask them to answer the questions in the handout you have prepared for them. You can collect the handouts at the end of the session and give students some feedback on them. They will be helpful revision resources for students.
What are the advantages?
- Students enjoy listening to others' recordings and being able to listen as many times as they need in order to carry out the task.
- They learn in a cooperative way because they may need to clarify words they do not understand by asking their peers.
- They do not feel anxious because they do not have to speak in front of everyone.
All in all, it is not a perfect tool and it has its drawbacks, which have to do with the need of a good Internet connection. Remember to ask the school for an external phone if you do not want to use your personal mobile phone with students. It is not very expensive and you will keep your intimacy.
Last but not least, this tool should not replace the usual procedure by which students present their work in front of the peers but it will help students who feel anxious in public to relax and it will also create an atmosphere of concentration which is key to effective listening.