Global Resources and Leadership Development in ESP: Facilitating Discussion Sessions

Hello, ESPers worldwide! In a previous TESOL Blog post, I mentioned Mr. Adnan Mahmud’s upcoming visit to Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) in Japan, and now, I am pleased to announce that his presentation on leadership and the subsequent discussion session with approximately 90 Japanese undergraduate students and adult learners were both a great success!  In this post, I would like to share with you why the students were such active participants.

What would you have done to make sure that plenty of questions were asked by members of the audience during the discussion held immediately after Mr. Mahmud’s presentation? I did several things:

  1. Before the event, I was able to meet with about 30 of the students during their regular classes, and we spent some of the class time brainstorming questions and practicing delivery.
  2. During the event, immediately after Mr. Mahmud’s speech, I asked all of the 90 students to stand, and I told them to work in small groups (of two or three students). I then explained that the members of a group could sit down only when the group had been able to generate one question to ask Mr. Mahmud. (About three minutes were permitted for this activity.)
  3. When everyone was seated, I asked each group to select one student to stand. That student was responsible for asking the group’s question.
  4. Then, I explained to the students who were standing that a student could sit down only after he or she had asked a question.
  5. Finally, I asked if there was anyone who would like to ask a question, and immediately, there were many, many hands in the air, as students wanted to be chosen as quickly as possible.

Some of the questions I recognized from class sessions and some were completely new. There was not only an exchange of questions and answers, but students expressed their opinions and told their own stories as well. I thought that the questions were not only impressive but also a challenge to answer; e.g., “I want to become a change maker. How do you become a change maker?” In fact, we did not have time to answer all of the questions, and I should add that the students did not read aloud their questions or look at notes.

After the discussion part of the event, some students came to the front of the room and spoke with Mr. Mahmud and also with the representatives of the U.S. Embassy who had made it possible for Mr. Mahmud to be a speaker.

It was a very successful event!

I’ll see you next week!

About Kevin Knight

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight (PhD in Linguistics, MBA, MPIA) is an associate professor in the Department of International Communication (International Business Career major) and has also been working in the Career Education Center of Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan. In the TESOL ESP Interest Section (ESPIS), he has served as chair and English in occupational settings (EOS) representative, and he is currently the ESPIS community manager. He was also a member of the Governance Review Task Force (GRTF) appointed by the board of directors. In addition, he has been a TESOL blogger in the area of English for Specific Purposes (ESP). He has more than 30 years of professional experience working for private, public, and academic sector institutions including Sony and the Japan Patent Office. His doctoral research on leadership communication (i.e., discourse) as a basis for leadership development was under the supervision of Emeritus Professor Christopher Candlin and Dr. Alan Jones.
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