Discussion can be identified as the talk of any issue including a controversial one. This method of teaching increases the intensity and effectiveness of the educational process by actively involving students in the collective search for truth. This method increases the involvement of students in the implementation of group solutions.
The group form of communication is an urgent need for foreign language lessons, since this method involves learning to communicate through communication. Such group form of organization of educational work in a foreign language lesson gives a lot: it develops the ability to communicate, provides better conditions for developing the ability to speak, provides the exchange of knowledge between students, promotes the growth of learning motivation, strengthens interpersonal relations, increases the student’s popularity status and teamwork. It also makes the role of the teacher more fruitful — instead of being forced to learn, the teacher’s main task is to render assistance.
During the discussion, the students speak the vast majority of the time. The ratio of the speech of the teacher and the students is clearly in favor of the latter. The teacher only directs and models the forms of speech interaction.
The main requirement for a discussion is the availability of real content in students’ utterances. For example, in the class devoted to the topic “Favorite activities and hobbies” schoolchildren tell their classmates about their hobbies: lovers of books — about their favorite authors and home libraries; sportsmen speak about everyday training, competitions and achievements; collectors — about collecting stamps, postcards, coins; animal lovers — about the habits of cats, dogs, fish, hamsters. The learners’ talk is accompanied by a show of collections, books, photos, theater programs, etc. A girl who loves bake and cook, treats her comrades to homemade cookies. Being present on such a lesson, one can involuntarily think it to be a reliable criterion of communication.
However, in organizing the discussion, the teacher may face a number of difficulties. Pupils with weak speaking skills may be shy to speak a foreign language. Sometimes students have nothing to say on the problem under discussion, they do not have sufficient information on this issue even in their native language. Often the desire to win the dispute leads to intolerance of opinions and views of other students, and it can cause excessive emotionality.
The most difficult is learning how to use questions. The challenge lies not so much in the fact that students cannot remember the order of words and the use of auxiliary verbs, but in the ability to formulate a meaningful and valuable question. No wonder they say: "What is the question, such is the answer." A substantial question does not so much ask for information, but defines communication and facilitates the understanding of the speech task for a partner. With the help of the question it is quite possible to simulate the desired answer and also change the nature of communication.
It is desirable that unprepared speech should prevail at the discussion lessons, but so far in such lessons in our schools a significant place is occupied by students’ prepared statements.
On the whole, the share of unprepared speech in a lesson depends on the specificity of the topic, on the level of preparation of the class, and on how well the form of the nontraditional lesson is mastered.
It is necessary to warn those who will be interested in this group form of the lesson from a possible methodological error — from converting a talk with all its options and surprises to the lesson, when all those present know in advance who will say, what and when. The teacher should not let students know about the scenario of the forthcoming lesson and moreover arrange rehearsals. Exceptions are permissible and even justified in relation to poorly trained students: the teacher can work with them individually and inform everyone when and on what matter he will be asked to speak.
In order to avoid these difficulties, the discussion must be carefully prepared. It is necessary to correctly select texts for reading and listening, which will fill in the gaps of the information plan and provide a set of language and speech tools on the topic under discussion. It is also important to create an atmosphere of goodwill and trust.
It is also very important to develop rules for conducting discussions, as well as criteria for evaluating the performance of students.
We suggest to adhere to the following rules of conducting a discussion:
1) not to allow attacks against the individual; 2) let everyone speak; 3) listen carefully to each other; 4) not to speak at the same time; 5) not to repeat oneself; 6) pushing the discussion forward, through the promotion of new ideas, communication of new information, with the help of formulating the adequate questions.
Of no less importance is that students have an understanding of the criteria for assessing participation in the discussion. What can be suggested as the criteria is the accuracy of arguments and counter-arguments, activity, consistency, the ability to highlight the most important and clearly articulate utterance, grammatical correctness of the utterance.
The use of active forms in teaching English develops students' skills in listening, reading, improves grammar knowledge, and increases the level of knowledge of monologue and dialogical speech.
Conducting discussions should be preceded by extensive preparatory work. When preparing students, it is necessary to work out such speech skills as the ability to ask questions; it is ability to answer the questions posed, use conversational clichés, ability to express agreement, disagreement, request, polite refusal, satisfaction, displeasure.
In the learning process, the role of collective discussions is great. Students are faced with a problem about which each of them must express their opinion. The teacher opens the topic, shares his own thoughts, asks leading questions. These kinds of activities allow the audience to relax, to overcome the constraint and speak more freely. This form of communication removes psychological fear, tension and shyness, students begin to express their thoughts more clearly and intelligently. Tasks are gradually becoming more complex, topics for discussion require thoughtfulness, attention to detail.
The success of the discussion lessons depends on many factors: on the level learners’ speaking abilities, on the degree of mastering the topic, on the quality of the lesson plan-scenario, and also on how the teacher plays the role of a speech partner: does he/she know how to direct the conversation, to improvise, to listen attentively and interestedly; to respond adequately and expressively to the pupils' statements — to rejoice, to be surprised, to agree, to disagree; use both verbal and non-verbal means of communication.