Over a period of 10 weeks, English Language Fellow Mathilde Verillaud led students in conversation clubs aimed at developing oral fluency in English through communicative activities. Verillaud designed the activities with the following themes: getting to know each other, family and photography, talking about movies, storytelling, decision-making, character traits, gender stereotypes, Mauritian and American stereotypes, and Mauritius. She used warm-ups, communicative games, and pair work to enhance students’ oral and critical-thinking skills. The participants stated that the conversation clubs were very different from their usual English classes, which tend to favor writing and reading over speaking and are more targeted to the final test.
High school students in Mauritius are under a lot of pressure to perform well on final middle school and high school exams, which are mostly written exams. They do not have the opportunity to practice oral communication skills and are consequently shy at speaking. This club helped them develop public speaking skills and they are now much more confident in their oral communication.