Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Fun ESL Speaking Activities Using Dialogues.

This year I have been given text books for all my classes, the quality of the book varies however the one thing all the books have in common is.. Dialogues! Dialogues can be a great way to get all the students speaking natural and correct English, however just repeating the same phrases over and over can get a bit dry. Here are some activities I use to spice them up a bit!

Introduction activity.
This works well as a quick introduction activity to get the students thinking about a(longer) dialogue. Put all the different parts of the dialogue on the board in the wrong order. Ask the students to try to put them into the correct order.

Reading the dialogue and substituting in different sentences.
This activity is the most obvious and most commonly seen in the text books. One dialogue, a couple of different options and ask the students to repeat the dialogue with their partner substituting in the different options.

The positives are that this can be a good way to start a dialogues lesson and certainly gets all the students talking, however the students aren't creating any of the language on their own and depending on the quality/suitability of the textbook the examples can sometimes be pretty unrelated to the students own lives.

Writing a version of the dialogue based on pictures.
This is an activity I like to use to get the students using the dialogues whilst creating their own sentences. Show the class a picture related to something that can be used in the dialogue and ask the students to invent their own sentence using something in the picture and the dialogue phrases. Then repeat with their partner before asking some of them to introduce their ideas to the class. This is a good activity to get the students creating their own sentences however depending on the level of your class/the dialogue you may have to correct some grammar errors.

Writing a version of the dialogue specific to the student.
This activity leaves the students with only the dialogue base and their imaginations. Ask the students to use the dialogue to create a completely new conversation relating to something they have actually done in their lives. Repeat with their partners. As with number two this is good as the students are creating their won sentences, however the more freedom you give them, the more likely it is that there will be errors.

Taking a class survey using the dialogue.
If the dialogue is appropriate I like to ask the students to write their own version of the dialogue, then the students should survey each other using the dialogues they have written. This activity gives the students a bit of extra motivation to essentially just repeat the dialogue many times. This obviously works well with shorter dialogues or dialogues that involve opinions or things specific to the students. It wouldn't work as well with a location specific example.

Acting out the dialogues.
I have never done this activity as it is not suitable for my classes, but it would maybe work with smaller groups or younger students. Just give the students a dialogue and ask them to give a full production to the class. This would work well with location specific and longer dialogues(for example shopping, going to the doctors).

Practising Intonation.
This link has a great idea for practising students intonation using dialogues.

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