The atmosphere of a language class can be heavily influenced by how excited the students are to learn, engage, and progress. If students are unengaged or fearful, you may be working with a very quiet or even potentially hostile classroom with kids teasing each other or choosing not to speak. If you have students that are excited about learning and speaking the language, you'll have a cooperative group that is bought-in to their own success. Extempore can help relieve some of the pressures that keep students from blossoming in class. Here are three tips for getting students excited about Extempore.
No More In-Front-of-Class Embarrassment
There is a lot of pressure on students these days to "be cool" or to not mess up in front of their peers. This holds a lot of students back in class. They don't want to be perceived as the nerd that is over eager to stand up in front of the class. They are also afraid of messing up in front of everyone and being made fun of for it. With Extempore, they'll no longer have to speak the language individually on the classroom stage. Instead, the whole class can be speaking and recording into their individual apps at the same time. This allows everyone to be focused on themselves and their own speaking skills rather than showcasing each student's speaking level for everyone to see and criticize. (Here some additional dos and don'ts of including the whole classroom in a language speaking activity.)
Grade Some Assignments FOR-Credit Only
A lot of language students struggle with confidence and will hold themselves back from speaking out of fear of making mistakes. This is especially true if they know that every single grammar detail will be heavily evaluated or graded. A great way to get them excited and encourage them to speak uninhibitedly is to let them know you will be grading certain assignments FOR credit only. This means that if they complete the assignment, they'll get full credit. The only way they won't get credit is if they don't even make an attempt.
For your more advanced classes, you could also attach time requirements to these assignments. An example of this is requiring speech recordings be at least a full 2 minutes straight in order to receive credit. Encourage them to not worry about little mistakes, but to focus on continuing to speak to the best of their ability for the full time. The students tend to get really excited after the first couple of times when they realize they are actually able to speak continuously for that amount of time.
Bonus: This will also help you in that you won't have to grade every single detail in each recording.
Involve Students More Directly
There are several ways you can get your students excited about Extempore by involving them directly in planning and in building their own success.
Giving students ownership over their own progress is a great way to get them to commit. Everyone is their own harshest critic. Having students complete assignments and provide themselves with a grade typically means they will judge their own performance with a critical ear. This will get them eager to improve quickly, and it can allow you to come in and point out all of the positive things they are doing. This will also relieve some additional grading pressure for you.
Have students create and students decide on Extempore activities:
There are countless ways to have a lot of fun while utilizing Extempore in the classroom. Host a brainstorming session in your classroom for everyone to come up with ideas for activities to complete using the app. You could also keep a suggestion box for the students that are a little shyer but have great ideas. If you are just getting started, you can download sample activities to generate some initial ideas.