Sunday, November 27, 2011

Walkabout talk: The TalkaboutWalkabout

Clip art: Clker
While in Japan, while teaching speaking classes of 50+, I developed an effective (primarily kinaesthetic) technique called the "TalkaboutWalkabout," inspired by the movie, Crocodile Dundee. (It has been cited in several methods texts.) Basically, students prepared a couple of good 3-minute stories that they could tell to fellow students using an attending skills format (See earlier posts.) as homework. In the two-hour class the next day, after some initial warm up, students walked around the perimeter of the room continuously for the next 90 minutes or outside in a larger fixed loop around campus, telling their stories and listening to the story of another student--switching partners every 8 minutes (about 10 times). In effect, each student told each of two stories four times and heard eight others.

Back then I was not working with explicit haptic anchoring but it was remarkable how the pace of the walking came to regulate the rhythm of speaking, and how relaxed and fluent the conversations became. By the end, students were invariably struck by how "good" they felt about speaking English. The "felt sense" of the walkabout that they had "discovered" became our model or metaphor for how good discussions should "feel" as well.

There are, of course, any number of possible explanations for why that technique may work, several have been introduced here earlier, including jogging, but this quote from a holistic medicine website, connecting up to the function of the (somewhat mythical) Australian walkabout of Dundee,  presents an interesting perspective on some of what is involved: " . . . a journey of healing and rediscovering the link between mind, body, and spirit." The effect in your class might not be quite that heavy duty or "anchored," but I can guarantee that it will at least provide a great deal to "talk about!" 

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