Saturday, July 20, 2013

2013 Jul 20 | Terry Fellner | Teaching Effective Academic Presentation Skills to Low-level English Speakers

Terry Fellner presents on
teaching academic presentation
skills to low-level L2 learners.
Teaching Effective Academic Presentation Skills to Low-Level English Speakers.

Terry Fellner, Saga University

In the second part of our JALT meeting in July, Terry discussed the very successful program he has been teaching for a few years at his university. The theme of the course is "Effective Academic Presentation Skills" and the target is for low-level English speakers.
Theory:  The theory behind Terry's program is to develop the 4 skills needed for presentations; listening, speaking, reading, and writing

Additionally, the course covers public speaking, organizational skills, autonomy, and has a focus on building self-confidence. This course provides useful skills people might need as teachers, professors, business life, and so on.

The course pedagogy is based on constructivism: that knowledge is constructed and not transferred. It is a student-centered course and assessed alternatively - there is no final test but there is a final presentation.

As a result of his efforts, some students at his university have won international awards for presenting their research in English at overseas conferences. To that end, the university has now opened up this course as a kind of Faculty Development for the staff.

What Terry does:

At first, he gets his students to think of a chef. Not everyone can cook, not everyone can present. But using a recipe, it is possible for anyone to make a successful presentation.

Here are some of the things Terry focuses on in the classroom:

  1. Consciousness Raising
  2. Modeling
  3. Practice
  4. Student reflection
  5. Do / Try
  6. One more reflection
Practice done in small steps using the scaffolding (one thing builds on the previous) technique.

Each presentation must be designed with a beginning, a middle, and an ending.

Beginning - Introduction, self, topic, overview, message objective
Middle - Body - information and visual aids
Ending - Summary, conclusion, message objective (the key point) Q&A

The benefit of presentation is networking. You meet like-minded people who are doing the same or similar research.

The following notes are some details of Terry's technique. (It should be noted that in both of Terry's presentations during our meeting, he used his recipe for giving a successful presentation so in essence, we witnessed his model in action during his lecture).


  • Expectations (eye contact, design)
  • Stages of a presentation
  • Overview sign post phrases - where is the presentation going?
  • Message objective
  • 2-3 seconds eye contact, the 4-5 seconds for the person further back
  • Do whats easy for their audience, not what is easiest for you.
  • Sequence words, intentions, action verb
  • By the end of this presentation you will have a better understanding of...

  • Body
  • sign posts - clearly end one topic and begin the next topic
  • Graphs, charts, tables - Gave us some good examples and bad examples of slides.
  • Drawing attention to a slide before showing it.

  • Effective summaries and M.O.
  • Q&A - thanks for your question, thats a nice question
  • Handouts - good handouts and bad handouts
  • Speaking Notes

Time line:


  • Grading: negotiated rubrics for evaluation - students come up with the rubric guided by the teacher.
Your turn:

During Terry's lecture, participants had a chance to do some of the steps Terry asks his students to do. In this way, we were given a firsthand example of how the course operates. Given more time, we could have turned this into a full workshop on presentation skills.

Overall, the information shared with us was extremely useful. Thanks to Terry for his insightful presentation on giving academic presentations in English.


No comments: