Take a dialogue and…

lame conversationTeacher 1: Does a dialogue provided by text books for listening comprehension stop being useful when the listening activity is over?
Teacher 2: Of course not! You can take a dialogue and..

As part of an input session I gave at Exeter Academy on Listening and Speaking lessons for lower levels, I put together this list of ways to exploit a dialogue (if an audioscript is available) to encourage students to notice the language in use, to manipulate it, and to remember the form, meaning and/or pronunciation. Techniques employed include repetition, memorisation, substitution, and personalisation.  Some activities are suitable for accuracy practice; some for fluency.

Having a script allows lower level students to feel supported and focusing on it for more than one activity means there is time for students to get comfortable with and take in the new language in context. While this list was put together with elementary students in mind, the ideas could also be put to use with more advanced students.

Take a dialogue and…

  • Students substitute some words for their own words.
  • Change one of the characters, the place, the mood, etc and rewrite / perform the script
  • Extend the dialogue (going backwards or forwards).
  • Tipex out every other line. Students write new lines to complete the dialogue.
  • Students perform the dialogue in style of a Western / rom-com / as quickly as they can, etc .
  • Students perform the line they think they can say the best.
  • Students mime the dialogue first before speaking it.
  • Don’t take it; make it! Use a picture to establish a situation and elicit a dialogue. Don’t write the words on the board, but mark instead who is speaking and other visual clues such as question marks. As you go along, ask Ss to tell you what went before. When it’s complete, students practise in pairs.

*If the dialogue you have is rather long, just use a part of it.

Any other ideas? Write in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list!


  1. j3ssm3ss · · Reply

    Hey Emma! Here are a few off the top of my head…
    – Disappearing/vanishing dialogues – Drill the dialogue, gradually removing words/phrases by rubbing off the board or covering up, great for focusing on tricky grammar, pron and reduced forms etc
    – For higher levels, give the first and last line of a dialogue to a pair of students, they must improvise a conversation to get from the beginning to the end (An Isca classic last year!)
    – Shadowing (Saw this an Antonia Clare talk) – Play students a short clip e.g. a movie trailer, with text up on the board, students mouth the words, then repeat with them saying it quietly, then out loud all together, then practicing in pairs without the audio, then try a different similar clip or make a new one. Def could be done with a dialogue! I might try it without the text too to…
    – Dramatic Dialogues http://bit.ly/1KDw6MF

  2. A nice list of activities and fun too! I think I’ll print this post out for some of my teachers. Thanks Emma!

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