Student–student monitoring in oral fluency tasks

Published on 18th November, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

Asking students to monitor their peers’ speaking can raise awareness of their own and others’ roles and level of contribution. It can raise the profile of oral fluency tasks too, if your students consider them to be extraneous to the main objectives (usually perceived by students to be grammar-related).

Set up the oral fluency task, eg a roleplay or discussion. Give one group member the task of monitoring their peers, stipulating exactly what their task is on a role-card. Choose your ‘monitor’ carefully. Avoid asking students to note problematic language. Just ask them to monitor general features, eg:

•  Is the conversation balanced?
•  Who is doing most of the talking? Why do you think this is?
•  Who is talking the least? Why?
•  How might this balance be improved?

Or, where relevant, you could write a more task-specific tasksheet for the ‘monitor’. I used the following in a complaints role-play at intermediate level, including a hotel manager and a disappointed guest:

•  How does the manager sound? (circle the appropriate adjectives): polite, angry, impolite, helpful, apologetic
  How does the customer sound? polite, angry, impolite, understanding, firm, weak
•  How many problems did the customer raise? 
•  Did he / she discuss these problems clearly?
•  How many of the problems did the manager solve?
•  Did he / she solve them effectively?
•  Who was in control in the conversation?

If necessary and appropriate, the role play could then be repeated, following peer feedback.