Communication The Exchange of Information

The nature of speaking and oral interaction. Communicative approach and language teaching. Types of communicative exercises and approaches. Games as a way at breaking the routine of classroom drill. Some Practical Techniques for Language Teaching.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид дипломная работа
Язык английский
Дата добавления 21.07.2009
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However, even warming-up activities mау seem threatening to very shy students. In particular, exercises in which one person has to speak about himself in front of the whole class belong in this category. You can reduce the strain by reorganising the activity in such а way that the student concerned is questioned by the class, thus avoiding а monologue where the pressure is on one person only. Students often find pair work the least threatening because everybody is talking at the same time and they have only got one listener. Depending on the atmosphere in your classes, you mау wish tо modify whole-class exercises to include pair or group work.

А number of warming-up exercises, are also suitable for light relief between periods of hard work. Grouping contains а lot of ideas for dividing students into groups and can precede all types of group work.

Most of the warming-up exercises are suitable for beginners because they do not demand more than simple questions and answers. But the language content of the exercises can easily be adapted to а higher level of proficiency.


Aims: Skills -- speaking

Language -- questions

Other -- getting tо know each other' s names

Level: Beginners

Organisation: Class

Preparation : As many small slips of paper as there are students

Time : 5-10 minutes

Procedure : Step 1: Each student writes his full name on а piece of paper. All the papers are collected and redistributed sо that everyone receives the name of а person he does not know.

Step 2: Everyone walks around the room and tries to find the person whose name he holds. Simple questions can bе asked, е.g. 'Is your name...?' 'Are you...?'

Step 3: When everyone has found his partner, he introduces him tо the group teaching.


We watch, read and listen to interviews every day. In the media the famous and not sо famous are interviewed on important issues and trivial subjects. For the advertising industry and market research institutes, interviews are а necessity. The success of an interview depends both on the skill of the interviewer, on her ability to ask the right kinds of questions, to insist and interpret, and on the willingness to talk on the part of the person being interviewed. Both partners in an interview should be good at listening so that а question-and-answer sequence develops into а conversation.

In the foreign language classroom interviews are useful not only because they force students rо listen carefully but also because they are sо versatile in their subject matter. Dubin, F and M. Margol (1977). It's Time To Talk: Communication activities for learning English as a new language. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice - Hall. As soon as beginners know the first structures for questions (е.g. Can you sing an English song? Have you got а car?) interviewing can begin. If everyone interviews his neighbour all students are practising the foreign language at the same time. When the learners have acquired а basic set of structures and vocabulary the interviews mentioned in this section can be used. А list of possible topics for further interviews is given at the end of the section. Of course, you may choose any topic you wish, taking them from recent news stories or texts read in class. In the warming-up phase of а course interviews could concentrate on more personal questions.

Before you use an interview in your class make sure that the students can use the necessary question-and-answer structures. А few sample sentences on the board may be а help for the less able. With advanced learners language functions like insisting and asking for confirmation (Did you mean that...? Do you really think that...? Did you say... ? But you said earlier that...), hesitating (Well, let me see...), contradicting and interrupting (Hold on а minute..., Can I just butt in here?) can be practised during interviews. When students report back on interviews they have done, they have to use reported speech.

Since the students' chances of asking а lot of questions are not very good in 'language-oriented' lessons, interviews are а good compensation. If you divide your class up into groups of three and let two students interview the third, then the time spent on practisinig questions is increased. As а rule students should make some notes on the questions they are going to ask and of the answers they get.

Self-directed interviews

Aims: Skills -- writing, speaking

Language - questions

Other -- getting tо know each other or each other' s points of view

Level : Intermediate

Organisation: Pairs

Preparation: None

Time: 10-30 minutes


Step 1: Each student writes down five to ten questions that he would like tо be asked. The general context of these questions can be left open, or the questions can be restricted to areas such as personal likes and dislikes, opinions, information about one' s personal life, еtс.

Step 2: The students choose partners, exchange question sheets and interview one another using these questions.

Step 3: It might be quite interesting to find out in а discussion with the whole class what kinds of questions we asked and why they were chosen.

Variations Instead of fully written-up questions each student specifies three to five topics he would like tо bе asked about, е.g. pop music, food, friends.

Remarks: This activity helps to avoid embarrassment because nobody has to reveal thoughts and feelings he does not want to talk about.

Jigsaw tasks

Jigsaw tasks use the same basic principle as jigsaw puzzles with one exception. Whereas the player doing а jigsaw puzzle has all the pieces he needs in front of him, the participants in а jigsaw task have only one (or а few) piece(s) each. As in а puzzle the individual parts, which may be sentences from а story or factual text, or parts of а picture or comic strip, have tо be fitted together to find the solution. In jigsaw tasks each participant is equally important, because each holds part of the solution. That is why jigsaw tasks are said tо improve cooperation and mutual acceptance within the group Aronson, E, N. Blaney, J. Sikes, G. Stephan and M. Snapp (1975) “The jigasw route to learning and liking” Pschology today Vol. 8 pp. 43 - 50 . Participants in jigsaw tasks have to do а lot of talking before they are able to fit the pieces together in the right way. It is obvious that this entails а large amount of practice in the foreign language, especially in language functions like suggesting, agreeing and disagreeing, determining sequence, etc. А modified form of jigsaw tasks is found in communicative exercises for pair work.

Jigsaw tasks practise two very different areas of skill in the foreign language. Firstly, the students have tо understand the bits of information they are given (i.е. listening and/or reading comprehension) and describe them to the rest of the group. This makes them realise how important pronunciation and intonation are in making yourself understood. Secondly, the students have to organise the process of finding the solution; а lot of interactional language is needed here. Because the language elements required by jigsaw tasks are not available at beginners' level, this type of activity is best used with intermediate and more advanced students. In а number of jigsaw tasks in this section the participants have to give exact descriptions of scenes or objects, so these exercises can be valuable for revising prepositions and adjectives.

Pair or group work is necessary for а number of jigsaw tasks. If your students have not yet been trained to use the foreign language amongst themselves in situations like these, there may be а few difficulties with monolingual groups when you start using jigsaw tasks. Some of these difficulties may be overcome if exercises designed for pair work are first done as team exercises so that necessary phrases can be practised.

The worksheets are also meant as stimuli for your own production of worksheets. Suitable drawings can be found in magazines. If you have а camera you can take photographs for jigsaw tasks, i.е. arrangements of а few objects with the positions changed in each picture. Textual material for strip stories can be taken from textbooks and text collections.

Some of the problem-solving activities are also а kind of jigsaw task.

The same or different?

Aims Skills -- speaking, listening comprehension

Language -- exact description

Other -- cooperation

Level Intermediate

Organisation Class,Pairs

Preparation One copy each of handout А for half the students, and one сору each of handout S for the other half (see Part 2)

Mimе 15-20

Procedure Step 1: The class is divided into two groups of equal size and the chairs arranged in two circles, the inner circle facing outwards, the outer circle facing inwards, so that two students from opposite groups sit facing each other. All the students sitting in the inner circle receive handout А. All the students in the outer circle receive handout S. They must not show each other their handouts.

Step 2: Each handout contains 18 small drawings; some are the same in А and S, and some are different. By describing the drawings to each other and asking questions the two students in each pair have to decide whether the drawing is the same or different, and mark it S or D. The student who has а cross next to the number of the drawing begins by describing it to his partner. After discussing three drawings all the students in the outer circle move to the chair on their left and continue with а new partner.

Step 3: When all the drawings have been discussed, the teacher tells the class the answers.

Variations The material can be varied in many ways. Instead of pictures, other things could be used, е.g. synonymous and non- synonymous sentences, symbolic drawings, words and drawings.

Chapter II

Questioning activities

This last section in the chapter is something of а mixed bag, in so far as it contains аll those activities which, although they centre around questioning, do not fit into any of the previous sections. First of all there are humanistic exercises that focus on the learners themselves, their attitudes and values. Secondly there is а kind of exercise that could be employed to teach learners about the cultural background of the target country. Thirdly there is а board game. Last of all there are three activities suitable either as warming-up exercises or as strategies for tackling more factual topics. The worksheets belonging tо these exercises can be modified accordingly. Many of these activities are quite flexible, not only as regards their content but also in terms of procedure. By simply introducing а few new rules, е.g. а limit on the number of questions or a time-limit they are transformed into games.

As soon as students are able to produce yes/no and wh-questions most of these activities can be used. You may, however, have со adapt the worksheets as these are not always aimed at the earliest stage at which an exercise can be used. For reasons of motivation similar activities, like Gо and find out and Find someone who..., should not be done directly one after the other Moskowitz, Y (1978) Caring and Sharing in the Foreign Language Class. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House..

For activities which question forms are practised. The book by Moskowitz (1978) contains а great number of humanistic exercises.

What would happen if...? http:/

Aims Skills -- speaking

Language -- if-clauses, making conjectures, asking for confirmation

Other -- imagination

Level Intermidiate

Organisation Class

Preparation About twice as many slips of paper with an event/situation written on them as there are students

Time 10-15 minutes

Procedure Every student receives one or two slips of paper with sentences like these on them: 'What would happen if а shop gave away its goods free every Wednesday?' 'What would you do if you won а trip for two to а city of your choice?' One student starts by reading out his question and then asks another student to answer it. The second student continues by answering or asking а third student tо answer the first student's question. If he has answered the question he may then read out his own question for somebody else to answer. The activity is finished when all the questions have been read out and answered.

Variations The students can prepare their own questions. Some more suggestions:

What would happen

if everybody who told а lie turned green?

if people could get а driving licence at 14? if girls had to do military service?

if men were not allowed to become doctors or pilots? if children over 10 were allowed to vote? i f gold was found in your area?

if а film was made in your school/place of work?

if headmasters had to be elected by teachers and pupils? if smoking was forbidden in public places?

if the price of alcohol was raised by 300 per cent?

What would you do

if you were invited tо the Queen' s garden party?

if а photograph of yours won first prize at an exhibition? if your little sister aged 14 told you she was pregnant? if you saw your teacher picking apples from her neighbour' tree?

if а salesman called at your house and tried со sell you а sauna bath?

if your horoscope warned you against travelling when you want to go on holiday?

if it rained every day of your holiday?

if you got а love letter from somebody you did not know? if you found а snake under your bed?

if you got lost on а walk in the woods?

if you were not able to remember numbers?

if somebody hit а small child very hard in your presence? if you found а 120 note in а library book?

if your friend said she did not like the present you had given her?

if you suddenly found out that you could become invisible by eating spinach?

if you broke an expensive vase while you were baby-sitting at а friend' s house?

if you invited somebody to dinner at your house but they forgot to come?

if you forgot you had asked four people to lunch and didn' t have any food in the house when they arrived?

if а young man came up to you, gave you а red rose and said that you were the loveliest person he had seen for а long time?

if you noticed that you hadn' t got any money on you and you had promised tо ring your mother from а call box at exactly this time?

if you could not sleep at night?

Values clarification techniques

The асtivitites in this section are based on the principle of the 'values clarification approach' which originated in the USA Howe, L. W. and M.M Howe (1975) Personilizing Education. New York: Hart . It is one of the assumptions of this approach that school must help young people to become aware of their own values and to act according tо them. The psychologist Louis Raths distinguishes between three main stages in this process: 'Prizing one' s beliefs and behaviours,... choosing one' s beliefs and behaviours,... acting on one' s beliefs' Simon S.B., L.W. Howe, and H. Krichenbaum (1972) Values Clarification. New York : Hart.. Personal values relate both to one' s own personality and to the outside world, including such areas as school, leisure activities or politics. Adults as well as young people may not always be consciously aware of their beliefs and so learners of all ages may find that the activities in this section help them tо discover something about themselves.

The activities in this section mainly concern the prizing and choosing of values; acting on one's beliefs cannot be learnt sо easily in the foreign language class. The individual tasks appeal directly tо the learners, who have to be prepared tо talk about their feelings and attitudes. On the one hand this may be а very motivating experience, because the students feel that they are communicating about something meaningful, as well as being taken seriously as people; on the other hand а situation in which the participants have to reveal some of their more 'private' thoughts mау appear threatening. Thus it is essential tо do these exercises in а supportive and relaxed atmosphere. You mау help create this atmosphere by joining in some of the exercises and sharing your values with уоur students. You should also remind your students of the guideline that nobody has tо answer embarrassing questions, and that the right to refuse to answer is granted to everyone in these exercises. The educational bias of values clarification techniques makes it easier to integrate them into а democratic style of teaching than mоrе traditional teacher- centred methods.

As regards the language items practised in these exercises, speech acts like expressing likes and dislikes, stating one' s opinions and giving/asking for reasons occur throughout. Skills like note taking are also practised, because students are often asked tо jot down their ideas and feelings.

Values clarification techniques share some characteristics with ranking exercises, but the latter are more structured and predictable.


Aims Skills -- speaking, writing

Language -- descriptive sentences, past tense (reported speech)

Other -- acknowledging the influence other people have on us, note taking

Level Intermdiate

Organisation Individuals, class

Preparation None

Time 10-30

Procedure Step 1: The students are asked tо think about their lives and the people they know/have known. Each student should find at least two people who have influenced him in his life. These mау be his parents, other relations, friends, or personalities from history or literature. Не should note down some points in order to be able tо tell the rest of the class briefly how these people have influenced him.

Step 2: Each student in turn says а few sentences about these people. А discussion and/or question may follow each speal

Remarks Emphasis should be given to positive influences.


Aims Skills -- speaking

Language -- giving reasons, stating likes and dislikes

Other -- thinking about one' s priorities

Level Beginners/intermediate

Organisation Pairs

Preparation Students are asked а day or so beforehand со bring along three objects which are important or significant for them.

Time 10 -- 15 minutes

Procedure Step 1: Students work with а partner. Each of them explains the use/purpose of the three objects he has brought with him and says why they are important and significant for him.

Both partners then talk about similarities and differences between their choice of objects.

Step 2: А few of the students present their partner's objects and explain their significance to the rest of the group.

Variations 1: Instead of real objects, drawings or photographs (cut out-3 of magazines or catalogues) may be used.

2: Before the paired discussion starts, а kind of speculating or guessing game can be conducted, where the three objects of а student whose identity is not revealed are shown, and suggestions about their significance are made.

Thinking strategies

In the last decade Edward de Bono has repeatedly demanded that thinking should be taught in schools. His main intention is to change our rigid way of thinking and make us learn to think creatively. Some of the activities in this section are taken from his thinking course for schools. Brainstorming, although also mentioned by de Bono, is а technique that has been used widely in psychology and cannot be attributed to him.

The thinking strategies resemble each other in that different ideas have to be collected by the participants in the first stage. In the second stage these ideas have tо be ordered and evaluated. It is obvious that there is ample opportunity tо use the foreign language at both stages. Apart from the speech acts of agreeing and disagreeing, suggesting, etc. these exercises practise all forms of comparison and the conditional.


Aims Skills -- speaking, writing

Language -- conditional, making suggestions

Other -- imagination, practice of important thinking skills

Level Intermediate

Organisation Groups of four to seven students

Preparation None

Time 5 -- 15 minutes

Procedure Step 1: The class is divided into groups. Each group receives the same task. Possible tasks are:

(а) How many possible uses can you find for а paper clip (plastic bag/wooden coat hanger/teacup/pencil/sheet of typing paper/matchbox, etc.)?

(b) You have со make an important phone call but you have по change. How many ways can you find of getting the money for the call?

(с) How many ways can you find of opening а wine bottle without а corkscrew?

(d) How many ways can you find of having а cheap holiday? The groups work on the task for а few minutes, collecting as many ideas as possible without commenting on them or evaluating them. All the ideas are written down by the group secretary.

Step 2: Each group reads out their list of ideas. The ideas are written on the board.

Step 3: The groups choose five ideas from the complete list (either the most original or the most practical ones) and rank them.

Variations 1: After Step 1 the groups exchange their lists of ideas. Each group ranks the ideas on its new list according со а common criterion, е.g. practicability, costs, simplicity, danger, etc.

2: Each group chooses an idea and discusses it according to the procedure.

Remarks Brainstorming increases mental flexibility and encourages original thinking. It is а useful strategy for а great number of teaching situations.

Interactive problem solving

In this section, we shall look at two approaches in which communicative tasks are sequenced around problem situations. The first is Scarcella's sociodrama, while the second is Di Pietro's strategic interaction. Both approaches allow the teacher to build in exercises which enable learners to develop vocabulary, grammar and discourse as well as interactive skills.

The focus of Scarcella's sociodrama is on the development of skills in social interaction. Unlike most role plays, sociodrama involves a series of specific steps. It is student- rather than teacher-centred in that students define their own roles and determine their own course of action. The following set of steps provides an idea of how the approach works.

1. Warm up

The topic is introduced by the teacher.

2. Presentation of new vocabulary

New words and expressions are introduced.

3. Presentation of dilemma

A story is introduced by the teacher who stops at the dilemma point. Students focus on the conflict which occurs at the dilemma point.

4. Discussion of the situation and selection of roles

The problem and roles are discussed. Students who relate to the roles and who have solutions to offer come to the front of the class to participate in the enactment.

5. Audience preparation

Those who are not going to take part in the enactment are given specific tasks to carry out during the enactment.

6. Enactment

Role-players act out the solution which has been suggested.

Discussion of the situation and selection of new role-players
Alternative ways of solving the problem are explored and new
role-players are selected.


The problem situation is replayed with new strategies.

9. Summary

The teacher guides the students to summarise what was presented.

10. Follow-up

These may include a written exercise, extended discussion, aural comprehension exercises or a reading exercise. (Scarcella 1978) Scarcella, R.C. (1978). “Socio-drama for social interaction.” TESOL Quarterly Vol.12 No. 1, pp. 41 - 46

Di Pietro's approach, which he calls 'strategic interaction' is based on improvisations or 'scenarios'. Students act out scenarios, having first memorised the situation and roles they are expected to play and having carefully rehearsed the scenario. However, at certain points during the acting out, additional information is injected into the situation, requiring learners to modify their intended role, and to alter the direction of the interaction.

With a little thought, problem situations and scenarios can be developed which do allow learners to rehearse 'real-world' language i.e. language they might potentially need to use in the real world. Whether or not a given lesson appears to have a real-world rationale really depends on the situation which the teacher has chosen. Scarcella obviously believes that her approach has real-world applications as can be seen in the following quote:

Socio-drama is an activity which obliges students to attend to the verbal environment. First, it is relevant to the students' interests, utilizing both extrinsic motivation, which refers to the students' daily interests and cares, and intrinsic motivation, which refers to the students' internal feelings and attitudes. . . . Furthermore, socio-drama is a problem-solving activity which stimulates real life situations and requires active student involvement.

(Scarcella 1978: 46)

In the following activities the learners have to find solutions tо various types of problem. In the case of puzzles there is just one correct solution: however, most of the ехеrcises lead tо а discussion of several ways of solving the problems. The problem tasks themselves range from the imaginary to the more realistic. The latter provide situations which the learners might conceivably have . to face outside the classroom.

Apart from the activities focusing on the likes and dislikes of individual learners, which therefore need an initial phase where each student works on his own, most of the problem- '. solving tasks in this section require pair or group work throughout. In some ways these activities are similar to ranking exercises because, like them, they generate discussions of the importance or relevance of statements, ideas or procedures. But unlike ranking exercises, problem-solving activities demand that the learners themselves decide upon the items to be ranked. Thus there is more creative use of the foreign language. It is advisable to use the less complex ranking exercises before any problem- solving activities if the students have not done this kind of work before.

The language which is needed for problem-solving activities depends on the topic of each exercise, but in general students will have tо make suggestions, give reasons, and accept, modify or reject suggestions and reasons given by others.

Desert island

Aims Skills -- speaking, writing

Language -- giving and asking for reasons, agreeing and disagreeing, making suggestions

Other -- imagination, common sense, fun

Level Intermediate

Organisation Individuals, pairs, groups.

Preparation None

Time 10-20

Procedure Step 1: The teacher describes the task tо the students: 'You are stranded on а desert island а long way from anywhere. There is а fresh water spring on the island, and there are banana trees and coconut palms. The climate is mild. Make а list of eight to twelve things which you think are necessary for survival.' Students work on their own.

Step 2: Students pair up and compare lists. They agree on а common list of а maximum of ten items.

Step 3: The students discuss the new lists in groups of four tо six students. They decide on а group list of а maximum of eight items and rank these according to their importance.


Aims Skills -- speaking

Language - stating an opinion, giving and asking for reasons, agreeing and disagreeing, comparisons

Other -- thinking about one' s values

Level Intermediate/advanced

Organisation Groups of five to eight students

Preparation None

Time 10-20

Procedure Step 1: The teacher explains the situation:

'The Earth is doomed. All life is going tо perish in two due tо radiation. А spaceship from another solar system lands and offers to rescue twelve people, who could start а new world on an empty planet very much like Earth. Imagine you are the selection committee and you have to decide who mау be rescued. Think of а list of criteria which you would use in your decision.'

Step 2: Each group discusses the problem and tries to work out а list.

Step 3: Each group presents its list of criteria to the class. The lists are discussed.

Variations The task can be made mоrе specific, е.g. 'Find ten criteria. You can award up tо 100 points if а candidate gets full marks on all counts, е.g. appearance 5, intelligence 30, fertility 15, physical fitness 20, etc.

Remarks Although the basic problem is а rather depressing one, it helps students to clarify their own values as regards judging others.

Chapter III

Stories & Poetry- painting that speaks

The aim of these activities is to get the students to produce longer connected texts. For this they will need imagination as well as some skill in the foreign language. Stimuli are given in the form of individual words or pictures.

Story-telling activates more than а limited number of patterns and structures and these activities are best used as general revision.

Chain story

Aims Skills -- speaking

Language -- simple past

Other -- imagination, flexibility

Level Beginners/intermediate

Organisation Class

Preparation Small slips of paper with one noun/verb/adjective on each of them, as many pieces of paper as there are students

Time 10 -- 20 minutes

Procedure Step 1: Each student receives а word slip.

Step 2: The teacher starts the story by giving the first sentence, е.g. 'It was а stormy night in November. А student (either а volunteer or the person sitting nearest to the teacher) continues the story. Не mау say up to three sentences and must include the word on his slip of paper. The next student goes on.

Variations Each student is also given а number. The numbers determine the sequence in which the students have to contribute tо the story.

Remarks One can direct the contents of the story to а certain degree by the choice of words.

Newspaper report

Aims Skills -- writing

Language -- reporting events, past tenses, passive

Other -- imagination

Level Intermediate

Organisation Groups

Preparation А large number of photographs taken from magazines and newspapers

Time 20 -- 30 minutes

Procedure Step 1: Each group is given five pictures of which they have to use three. Their aim is tо write а newspaper rероrt linking these three pictures.

Step 2: When each group has decided which pictures to use they write their report.

Step 3: The reports are read out and the pictures shown to the class.

Variations 1: Each group chooses three pictures which another group has tо write about.

2: After Step 2 all the pictures are displayed on the wall. When the reports are read out the others have to guess which pictures fit which report.

3: The reports are taken as starting points for interviews and role plays.

Remarks If unusual and widely differing pictures are chosen the result can be very funny.

This work is based on the assumption that the handing-down of grammatical rules is made easier if students are told in the regular beat of a verse scheme. The poems themselves are here to give the words a special measured motion as they are spoken. The rhythmic movement is sufficiently controlled to show some regularity. In some ways the poetic lines are like careful conversation; each word is chosen to give the fullest possible effect, and the rhythm of the lines ensures that heaviness is avoided to some extent. However, poetry is essentially spoken language, and so the lines are more memorable than prose. One advantage of these poems is that the lines are easily remembered.

The general meaning of a poem is more important than the literal meanings of the individual words. Thus, to read a poem effectively is to read it wholly and appreciate its unity.

The following poem states that the passive voice is preferable in scientific writing. It also shows how active voice can be changed into passive voice. The last two lines explain that the subject of the active voice is put at the end in the passive sentence and it is often omitted as it is expressed through the word "dead."

Active and Passive Forms:

Hi, Ahmad, come and see,

Two forms may a sentence be.

Active or passive voice, Each one a free choice,

Active in all speech, Passive for science teach.

Active form is formal, Passive also be normal.

To get passive as we know, After a verb should object go.

In the passive object needed, Being subject firstly seated.

Object comes to be first, As a subject not to hurt.

Subject goes to the end, Following "by" as a friend.

Abdul Hassan Sh. Qassim Ajdubia, Libya

Poetry is painting that speaks, according to Plutarch. It is the artistic use of language which sums up its essence and unbounded versatility. It requires, however, a degree of linguistic sophistication for understanding and appreciation. Therefore, you should reserve English poems for FFL/ESL students who are both proficient in English and genuinely interested in poetry. Only with such groups can poems become popular and productive items for conversation.

In choosing poems for your group, I suggest that you limit your choice to nineteenth- and twentieth-century poetry. If you are considering American poetry, for instance, poems by Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, and other well-known poets should provide excellent discussion material. Of course, you do not have to limit your choice to great poets only. There are, for instance, collections of poems by talented American high school and university students-collections which often contain fine selections for use in English conversation sessions.

A poem that is short, written in clear language, and universally appealing is most likely to interest your students. As Jerome Gram said in a recent seminar in Turkey, "Unlike a novel or a play or a story, such a poem presents itself on the page in bite size-encouragingly compact and accessible--a manifestly possible task. And at the same time, the density of meaning and possibility in a word or a line of poetry yields ample and varied material for study."

Once you have collected poems that you consider suitable, you may want to use the following procedures;

1. Read each poem two or three times to your students before they see it in the written form. They should listen for meaning as well as for rhythm in the individual words and lines.

2. Give everyone a copy of the poem. If there are no duplicating facilities available, write the poem on the blackboard so that the students can copy it.

3. Explain the meaning of words or expressions that students may not be familiar with.

4. Read the poem again while the students follow the written form.

5. Discuss the message or messages in the poem. Ask: the students why they agree or disagree with the poet's views. Have students restate the message(s) in prose.

6. Read the poem and have the students listen to it with their eyes closed so that they can concentrate on the sound of the words.

7. Have the group go through the poem with a different student ding each line, one student reading one verse and the entire group heading the next, female students reading some lines and male students reading others, or any other pattern that adds interest and pried vocal quality during the reading of the poem.

8. Discuss the poet-his life, philosophy, other poems he has written, and additional information that would interest your students.

9. Delineate the cultural elements appearing in the poem. Have the students compare these with elements in their own culture.

10. Help the students memorize the poem if they are interested in doing so. Poems learned by heart can be repeated by the group as a whole or by individual students and are apt to be even more attractive with familiarity. Besides, a poem which is memorized becomes the students' actual ""possession," a living part of his own linguistic and intellectual heritage.

Professor Gram told his students, "There's no better way to get familiar and at home with English than to have a few English poems running through your head." You may make the same observation with your students.

Games as a way at breaking the routine of classroom drill

Language games can add fun and variety to conversation sessions if the participants are fond of games. I, myself, have always enjoyed games, and students (most of them adults) seem to share my enthusiasm. Games are especially refreshing after demanding conversational activities such as debates or speeches. Here, the change of pace from the serious to the lighthearted is particularly welcome, although language games can fit into any directed conversation program quite well.

Socio-drama is an activity which obliges students to attend to the verbal environment. First, it is relevant to the students' interests, utilizing both extrinsic motivation, which refers to the students' daily interests and cares, and intrinsic motivation, which refers to the students' internal feelings and attitudes. . . . Furthermore, socio-drama is a problem-solving activity which stimulates real life situations and requires active student involvement.

Some teachers feel that language games are more appropriate in the manipulative phase than in the communicative phase of language learning. Most teachers, however, find language games valuable in both phases. In the manipulative phase, a game is a wonderful way to break the routine of classroom drill by providing relaxation while' remaining within the framework of language learning. In the communicative phase, a game can be stimulating and entertaining, and when the participants have stopped playing the game you can use it as a stimulus for additional conversation. For instance, if the group has just finished the game in which players indicate whether a statement is true or false by running to chairs labeled “True” and “False,” you may then ask questions about what happened during the game. ("Who was the first player?", "Who knocked the chair over by accident?", "What was the first true statement in the game?", "How many points did Team II score?" etc.)

Of course, for maximum benefit from a language game in either phase, the teacher should select only the best from the hundreds of language games available. Most people would agree that a good language game

(1) requires little or no advance preparation,

(2) is easy to play and yet provides the student with an intellectual challenge,

(3;) is short enough to occupy a convenient space in the conversation program,

(4) entertains the students but does not cause the group to get out of control, and

(5) requires no time-consuming correction of written responses afterward.

These games are for teen-agers and adults but often enjoyed by children as well, are especially suitable for use in conversation sessions. Before you read the instructions, you may wish to consider the following suggestions--suggestions designed to insure the greatest success with any of the games you select:

1. Make thorough preparations for the game. Read the rules to yourself several times so that you have a good understanding of how it is played. Gather materials for the games that require special equipment. Plan how you will direct conversation during or following the game.

2. Before introducing a game to a class, ask the students if they think they would enjoy this kind of activity. Occasionally an adult class expresses in no uncertain terms its lack of interest in the prospect of playing a game. When this happens, it is best to abandon the idea-at least for the time being.

3. Choose a game that allows as many students as possible to participate. If the class is large, a number of students will sit as the audience during some games. But even there, members of the audience may keep score and in other ways take part in the game. In small classes, you should make sure that every student has an active role in every game.

4. Be sure that the game you select is within the range of your students' ability. Remember that the students will be greatly challenged by the fact that they are playing the game in a language other than their own.

5. Do not play a game at the beginning of the conversation period. Save the game for use in the middle or toward the end of the session, when the students would welcome a change of pace.

6. Give the directions to the game very clearly; making sure that everyone understands exactly how to play. You may want to play a few "trial" games first, just to make sure that everyone knows his role.

7. Direct the game yourself. Always stand in front of the class, so that all students can see you while you act as the leader or referee.

8. Be sure to follow the rules of the game exactly. If you do not "stick to the rules" but permit even one student to break a rule, you will establish a precedent that may lead to hostility among the students. It is always best, therefore, to anticipate problems of this kind and to play strictly according to the rules.

9. Keep the game well under control. Even though you want your students to have a good time, you cannot allow class discipline to disintegrate. Establish a pleasant but firm tone, and the students will be able to enjoy the game and learn in the process.

10. Observe how the individual players react to the game. Students who make an error in a game may feel a bit sensitive, so you should soften any blows to pride. If you constantly encourage a good spirit of fun, you will reduce the chances of unhappiness during the game.

11. In team games, try to have in each team an equal number of more proficient students and less proficient students. This will balance the teams and prevent embarrassment on the part of the weaker students. It also makes the contest more exciting. Some methodologists recommend that you set up permanent teams so that you do not have to name new teams each time. This has its merits, but you may prefer to create new teams each time you play a game, thus lending variety and interest to every fresh contest.

12. If a game does not seem to be going well, try a different game. Since some games appeal to one group of students but not to another, you should be flexible in your use of games.

13. Always stop playing a game before the students are ready to quit. In other words, never play a game so long that it begins to bore the participants. Similarly, do not play one game too often, since this will cause it to lose its novelty.

As you read the directions to the games that follow, do not be discouraged by the length of some of the directions. Long directions might make you think that the game is a complicated one, but all the games are easy for the student to learn if they are geared to his English proficiency level.

For this lively game you should set two chairs close to each other in front of the class and label one chair "True" and the other chair "False." Then divide the students into two teams of equal size and have members stand one behind the other on opposite sides of the room, with everyone facing the two chairs.

Explain that you are going to make a statement which may or may not be true, such as "John is absent today" (when he actually is absent) or "It was cloudy this morning'" (when it was sunny) or "Mary is wearing a red dress"' (when she is wearing a blue one) or "There are ten girls in this room" (when there are only seven). You should say the statement fairly rapidly, and only once.

As soon as you have completed the statement, a member of Team I and a member of Team II standing at the head of their respective team lines should quickly decide if the statement is true or false and run to the appropriate chair. The first person who sits down squarely on the right chair scores a point for his team. Both contestants then go to the end of their team lines and you make another statement for the second set of contestants. The game continues in this fashion until everyone has had a chance to play or until the time limit, agreed upon in advance, has been reached. Because the statements can be short and easy, or long and difficult, the game is ideal for all language-learning levels.

Classroom twenty questions

This is an excellent guessing game in which one person chooses a visible object in the room and the other students try to guess what it is by asking questions.

Suppose that you, for instance, begin the game by mentally selecting a pink scarf that one of the girl students is wearing. Tell the students that you have chosen an object and that each student can ask one question about it. You will give a complete answer to the question.

After several questions have been asked, the person whose turn is next may think he knows what the object is, In this case, he can ask, "Is it a (the). . . ? If he has guessed correctly, he wins the game and becomes the person who chooses the object in the second game. You will need someone to keep count of the number of questions asked. If no one has guessed the object after twenty questions, the person who selected the object wins the game and can choose another object for the second game.

The game might go something like this:

Student A: Is it as large as the map on the wall?

Answer: No, it isn't as large as the map.

Student B: Is it made of metal оm cloth?

Answer: It's made of cloth.

Student C: Does it belong to a student?

Answer: Yes, it belongs to a student.

Student D: Is it in front of me or behind me?

Answer: It's in front of you.

Student E: Is it round?

Answer: No, it isn't round.

Student F: Is it very expensive?

Answer: No, it isn't very expensive.

Student G: What color is it?

Answer: It's pink.

Student H: Is it Anna's scarf?

Answer: Yes, it is. You've won the game!

At this point, Student H comes to the front of the room and mentally selects a new visible object for the next game.

If your students are quite advanced, you may wish to play the original game of 'Twenty Questions." In this form of the game, only questions that take a Yes or No answer are permitted. Another variation of the game is to select a famous person, living or dead, to be guessed, instead of an object.

What would you do if…?

This is such an amusing game that your class will probably want to play it often.

Begin the game by dividing the class into two teams of equal number. Designate one as Team I and the other as Team II. Then, write the following on the blackboard:

Team I Team II

What would you do if. . .? I would. . .

Now give everyone on Team I a slip of paper and explain that each person on the team must write an imaginative question beginning with What would you do if, . . . For example, someone might write: "What would you do if you saw a tiger in the street?" Someone else might write: "What would you do if you won a car in a lottery?". Etc.

As Team I carries out these directions, give everyone on Team II a piece of paper. Explain that each member of this team must write an imaginative sentence beginning / would. , . , For instance, someone could write "I would dance for hours." Another person might write "I would buy a wig.” etc.

When everyone has finished writing his assigned sentences, collect all Team I's questions in one box and all Team II's answers in another. You can now draw and read first a question and then an answer. This game is sometimes called "Cross Questions and Crooked Answers"; the fun comes from the fact that the questions and answers are so utterly and ridiculously unrelated.


Projects involving hobbies, crafts, physical exercise, sports, and civic services are extremely fruitful for English conversation groups, provided that only English is spoken during a given activity. All you need to do is to find a common denominator in your group's interests and your abilities to supervise plus adequate time, space, and equipment to create projects successful in their own right as well as in conversation practice. While possibilities for projects are almost limitless, here are a few that you may wish to consider for teen-age and adult groups:

1. Playing card games such as bridge, or board games like chess or Scrabble.

2. Engaging in carpentry.

3. Doing metal or leather work.

4. Making jewelry.

5. Exchanging recipes and demonstrating the preparation of certain dishes.

6. Sewing.

7. Telephoning English-speaking convalescents or shut-ins to brighten their day and to practice English over the telephone.

8. Participating in projects to improve the environment such as clearing a stream of rubbish.

9. Drawing or painting pictures to be used as decorations in the classroom or clubhouse.

10. Taking care of a bulletin board by bringing in and posting appropriate items for display.

11. Playing team sports such as volleyball or basketball.

12. Learning songs and dances that are popular in English-speaking countries.

13. Giving talent shows, plays, or concerts.

14. Participating in various audio-motor units. An audio-motor unit is a language teaching device developed by Robert Elkins, Theodore Kalivoda, and Genelle Morain in which the teacher records a sequence of ten to twenty commands around a common theme on tape. When the teacher plays the tape, he pantomimes responses to the commands while the students watch. Next, the students join the teacher in pantomiming responses to the tape. Eventually, the teacher can read off commands in a scrambled fashion with the students performing the correct physical response to each command. For example, if the teacher has recorded a series of commands about unwrapping a birthday present, the following audio-motor unit might result:

(1) Pick up the package.

(2) Shake it gently to see if it rattles.

(3) Put the box down.

(4) Remove the card.

(5) Read the card.

(6) Put the card down.

(7) Untie the ribbon.

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