How to really teach interrupting – don’t!

Teaching business meetings and academic discussions to Japanese learners means sooner or later having to deal with their real weak point – turn taking. I’ve therefore slowly built up what could well be the most comprehensive selection of teaching turn taking materials on the web, with loads of nice phrases, a mix of controlled and freer speaking activities, and even quite a few games.

Just one problem with all that – none of it has ever actually worked.

Over the years I’ve consoled myself with that classic thought after every failed PPP or TTT lesson, that by raising awareness I could perhaps be planting a seed that will sprout long after they have left my class. However, recently I’d come to the conclusion that the best approach was avoiding lessons on the topic turn taking until teaching technology includes personality transplants for students. Until, that was, a bizarre confluence of different influences all came together to make this lesson:

Things to do when you interrupt

I went in thinking it might be worth one last try, and like some Hollywood movie that final desperate roll of the dice only went and worked… My Japanese students happily interrupted each other all through the class, and some of it even lasted to the following class too.

Not sure yet what lessons to draw from that, but will share any musings or conclusions here as they pop into my head.

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