mini dialogues

One of the keys to successful teaching is the ability to provide ample opportunities for recycling language in varied, original and engaging ways. A substantial number of activities from this blog deal with recycling language. In fact, speaking a language is nothing but reusing language. Here is one activity that you may enjoy trying out to kick off your lesson.

Identify interesting bits of language that cropped up from your previous lesson and create a mini dialogue with two interventions where that language is used in one of the lines. Then, get rid of the line that does not contain that language.

Here are some examples from an Upper-Intermediate class.

  • Skip it and just move on. Don’t waste your precious time.
  • That’s weird! Are you sure?
  • Of course you can do it, if you set your mind to it.
  • It went really well actually. Thanks for asking.
  • Wow! You’re so resourceful. You really are!

Write this on the board or project on a screen and show to your class. Clarify meaning and then get your students into pairs and give them 6-10 minutes to choose as many of the dialogues they can see and provide the missing lines. They can do this in any order and as many as they may have time for.

For instance, the first dialogue could unfold like this:

  • This exercise is so difficult!
  • Skip it and just move on. Don’t waste your precious time.

Ask your students to come up to the front, each pair of students at a time and scenify their dialogues. Don’t limit yourself to the mere recycling of these language items. This is a very good opportunity for pronunciation practice as well.

If you would like to extend this activity further, focus on one interesting mini dialogue and ask the rest of the students:

  • Where are the speakers?
  • Why might they be saying this?
  • What’s their relationship?
  • What can be said right before and and right after?

For this instance, the speakers might be two students in a classroom or library. They might be doing some school work. One of them might be struggling with an exercise and the other one is encouraging him or her to do the next one and come back to that one later. And these might be the interventions right before and right after:

  • Having trouble?
  • This exercise is so difficult!
  • Skip it and just move on. Don’t waste your precious time.
  • I know. I was about to.

Very minimal preparation activity. One recommendation: always keep a record of interesting bits of language that crop up in the classroom. I always have a notebook on my desk where I annotate some of the language that I write on the board as I teach. First thing I do when I’m ready to prepare my next lesson is take a look at those annotations.

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