This article introduces the use of public exam questions in fishbowl debate to engage highly exam-oriented secondary students with communicative language teaching (CLT). The practice aims to address the issue that many teachers of English as a second language (ESL)/English as a foreign language (EFL) in Asian contexts either teach to the test or implement CLT without catering for the students' pragmatic needs to pass external assessment. A series of activities was implemented in a secondary school in Hong Kong to promote positive washback from the public exam. The author's experience and reflections informed by ongoing dialogue with the stakeholders in the school and data collected from student focus group interviews suggest that the fishbowl debate encouraged students to use English for authentic and meaningful purposes, while appreciating its relevance to the writing exam. An important pedagogical implication is for teachers to balance CLT and exam preparation and help students to reach both their mastery and performance goals. Copyright © 2020 The Author(s).
CitationYung, K. W.-H. (2020). Using public exam questions in fishbowl debate to engage exam-oriented students in communicative language teaching. RELC Journal. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0033688219888055
- Communicative language teaching
- Fishbowl debate
- High-stakes exam
- Learning English through debating