Discussions: Minimum length of time and discussion topics

The point was made on another thread that the present discussion arrangement may discourage people from participating. This is because anyone signing up may end up with only a 15 minute discussion, which is too short a time to get the brain switched on to English, in the words of Waldemar. Mark, Jill and I will look at this question next week.

Another issue is the discussion topic. Obviously it is easier and more interesting to talk on a subject that one likes. However, it is difficult for tutors to always come up with new topics that are going to interest our learners.

The following idea was suggested by Radek.

Just as learners are encouraged to choose their own contents to study, learners should be encouraged to take more initiative in creating topics on subjects of interest to them. Members can already create their own discussions but most seem reluctant to do so.

So a better approach might be for members to suggest topics of interest, on this forum for example. We can make a list of these topics available somewhere at LingQ. We can have members vote on which subjects interest them the most. Then members can create their own discussions by choosing a topic from this list. Members will probably choose something that is both popular and of interest to them.

This should ensure that the discussion topic is of general interest and the discussion time is convenient. Tutors would continue to create discussions but we would rely more and more on the initiative of the members.

We may also take up Yukiko’s suggestion and have an automatic 30 minutes minimum for a discussion even if only one person shows up. We may have to change the system so that in the event that we have a lot of discussions with only one person we may have to charge that person for 30 minutes. At least in this way anyone creating a discussion or joining a discussion is guaranteed 30 minutes.

Anyway, I invite your comments.

A really difficult topic because - I wrote on another thread - for me a 1 on 1 arrangement is more stressful than with 2, 3 or 4 members. The ideas are more multiple, the cultures are different and so the discussion is more full of life.
To read a topic, to speak about and to get helps for pronunciation and the meaning is important for me in the envents.

When I have the time, I alway listen to one of the ling podcasts before the discussion event. So my brain is still switched on to English and then a 15 minute discussion is not too short for me. In the ‘real world’ (e.g. during a business call in your company) you also have not 15 minutes time to switch to English. I like it best, when you ask unexpected questions in the discussion, that I don’t know before like in a real small-talk situation.

I agree with Andreas. I am in favour of more open topic discussions. I have set up two like this for next week. I will have some topics prepared but would like the participants to prepare topics. You cannot always go into a conversation knowing what other people are going to say.

The 15 minutes discussion is too short for me. My brain can switch onto English brain within 15 minutes, but it can be easily over by just talking general things. After I joined a couple discussions at the LingQ system, I felt reluctant to sign up the discussion mainly because I was most likely to end up as an only participant. I started to wait until other members sign up the discussion. So as I said at the other thread, a 30-mins-guarantee will motivate me to join the discussion for sure. About the discussion topics, I don’t have any problem in so far. Members are not familiar with creating new events at this point, I think we are willing to do so once we know the system. Steve’s idea of encouraging members to create events might help us.

Hi, I’m also in favor of the open discussions. I find it more interesting, the spontaneous subjects are more natural in my point of view. I don’t like the prepared question. I like to listen or to express my opinion as in real social meeting. That’s why I liked Tom Kaufmann Discussions (will he host discussions again?) and in addition it was funny and inspiring.
Usually in that kind of discussion its take time to warm up, so 15 min ends with apology for cutting the discussion in the middle (or just when it become more fluent).