Use of Dialogues in Developing Listening And Speaking Skills

Greek Origins of Dialogue

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Use of Dialogues

Developing listening and speaking skills through the use of dialogues has helped me immensely in becoming proficient in Chinese Mandarin. The effective use of dialogues in my EFL and ESL classes has also aided my students in improving their listening and speaking skills. Through years of experience, I am convinced that recitation of dialogues definitely does help in making all language learners better listeners and speakers. In this hub I present five compelling reasons why dialogues have a place in listening and speaking classes.

What Is a Dialogue?

A dialogue is no more than communication between two people through either speaking or writing. For the purposes of this hub, I will consider speaking dialogues. A very simple dialogue between Jane and Toey on an elevated light rail in Bangkok might go like this:

Toey: Oh, excuse me, Miss, but is this seat taken?

Jane: No, it isn't. Please sit down here.

Toey: Thanks. You have a very cute baby!

Jane: Why, thank you. I'm glad you think so. You speak English very well.

Toey: Really? I'm just learning, you know, and need to improve my pronunciation.

This dialogue could also easily be modified into a conversation among three or four people if Toey or Jane had friends with them.

A Shopping Dialogue

Five Reasons for Using Dialogues in The Classroom

1. Dialogues Represent Real Life Speech

How many times have you opened a beginning language textbook and seen sentences like these:

I have a pen.

You have a book.

She has a backpack.

The boy has a bicycle.

We have pens.

They have toys.

The intent of the textbook authors is to show students how to correctly use the verb "to have" with all subjective nouns and pronouns. But the problem is this: Do people talk to each other this way?

By using a dialogue, you can introduce the meaning and use of the verb "to have" through a sample of real life speech such as:

Mary: You've such a big house!

Tom: Yeah, I do. It has at least 10 rooms.

Through use of this very short dialogue, there is a definite exchange of meaningful information. Dialogues also represent the fillers people use when talking such as "Oh," "And a," and "You know." They also employ numerous contractions like "you've" for "you have," slang in the word "Yeah" instead of "Yes," and degrees of stress and intonation when speaking.

2. Teach Culture in Different Social Situations:

The great thing about dialogues is that you are learning the culture of a people through its language when reciting them. For example, in a dialogue on the topic of introductions, students quickly learn that in American culture males are introduced to females, and that it is customary for people to shake hands including men shaking hands with women. In the situation of meeting a stranger, a dialogue might reflect that it is impolite or improper to ask a person about their age, weight, or salary or income.

3. Students Love Role Play Dialogues:

All of my students love to recite and practice dialogues because they can be role played. Each dialogue that I present reflects a social situation such as visiting a friend, talking on the telephone, or shopping. Students love acting out the dialogues in which they can use a lot of body language and emotion.

4. A Springboard for Learning New Vocabulary And Sentence Structure:

Through the use of substitution drills, dialogues can introduce the student to new vocabulary and sentence structures. In the exchange, "You have a very cute baby." said while giving a compliment, one may substitute the noun "baby" with "dog," "kitten," "puppy" or "rabbit." You could also introduce a tag question in a dialogue like "You're a tourist, aren't you?" and through substitution drills you could generate sentences such as "You're an American, aren't you?" and "She's your daughter, isn't she?"

5. Scaffolding Learning to Reach Free Conversation Ability

Ultimately I try to get my students to proceed from dialogue recitation to free conversation as soon as possible. This is done by scaffolding learning in which I coach the students how to apply memorized dialogues with appropriate substitutions to new situations. If the students are motivated and having fun with dialogues, most are able to make the big jump to free conversation after going through a series of dialogues.

In the 1970s I successfully used the English 900 series texts with personal supplementary dialogues while teaching listening and speaking. In the past, the school where I taught used Pearson Education Limited's Our Discovery Island series of textbooks and student workbooks. These textbooks and workbooks have very interesting, illustrated dialogues and conversations which engage the interest of all students. The great thing about dialogues is that they are fun for students and represent authentic language from life.

© 2012 Paul Richard Kuehn

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Comments 22 comments

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Very useful information here on a vital topic. The better we listen and communicate....the better is our understanding and interaction with one another. A first step toward more harmony in the world. UP +


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Paula,

Thanks for reading and your positive comments. Thank you also for your comments on the 35 acre piece.


chef-de-jour profile image

chef-de-jour 4 years ago from Wakefield, West Yorkshire,UK

Thanks for this and all strength for your future teaching.

Part 2 has scratched my comedic itch? if that's the right way of putting it. Cultural introductions - you can picture a stranger meeting someone from a land where it is compulsory to know everyone's salary and tax affairs.

'How do you do? And how much do you earn each year?'

'Nice to meet you. $48 per annum on Hubpages. And you?'


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Yes, it is true that here in Thailand quite a few of the locals think it is alright to ask someone their age and salary. Thanks for reading and your comments.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

You are right, this is a very effective technique for teachers and learners. As you say, it can provide the framework and real life scenarios in one hit! Much better than knowing the grammar, but not knowing how to fit it to an actual sentence!

Shared, up and interesting.


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

As a teacher, this article is so very true. We need to listen, as teachers sometimes even more than we speak ourselves. Thanks for this article. Sharing and voting it up!


Jenn-Anne profile image

Jenn-Anne 4 years ago

Great hub! Lots of useful information. Will keep these things in mind as I continue my language studies. Voting up!


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

Dialogues are great tools in the EFL / ESL classroom! With adult students I find I need to leave more room for improvisation in dialogues - makes it more fun, and the students get exposed to a larger vocabulary and variety of grammar constructs. Although this may be better for lower intermediate and more advanced students!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Excellent concept and I know it works. Way back in 1961 when I took French in High School our first lesson was (in French of course) "Hello, Jack, How are you? Very well thanks, and you?" Yes, all these years later I still remember my first French lesson, I would say proving your theory though you put it so much better and support it so well.

Voted up, useful and interesting.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Brett,

Thanks for reading and your comments. I especially appreciate your sharing of the hub.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Janine,

Thanks for reading and your comments. I like using dialogs because they seem to make the language come to life for students. Thank you also for sharing.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Jenn-Anne,

Thanks a lot for your comments and good luck in your language studies!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Thanks for reading and the comments. Yes, improvisation in dialogues for adult students is a good technique to use.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Tillsontitan,

Thanbk you very much for your comments. I also can remember the first dialogue I learned while studying Chinese Mandarin many years ago.


bamuscarella profile image

bamuscarella 4 years ago from Buffalo, NY

Thanks for sharing! As an ESL instructor at a local college, I find your Hubs very useful for those times when I'm trying to come up with fresh techniques and activities to help my students understand English in a new way and improve their fluency. Honestly I have found your Hubs more resourceful than some of the texts and other resources out there.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

bamuscarella,

Thanks for reading and your kind comments. I try to write my hubs so that the common person can easily understand. It makes me feel good that you are finding them resourceful.


Kasman profile image

Kasman 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

How much could something like this be used for marriage counseling as well. It could be described as two people with different languages coming together to decipher each other. Funnily enough, my wife speaks pretty fuent Italian because she was born in Italia and was around Italian speaking parents most of her life.

The best way for me to learn Italian is for my wife and I to engage in dialogue and then she translates as we go. Great hub, voting up!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Kasman,

Thanks for reading this article and your very interesting comments. You are absoutely correct. Listening and speaking skills are definitely necessary when doing marriage counseling. I think you have to do as much listening as speaking and maybe even more listening if you want to establish good communication.


Nitpitchaya 3 years ago

Thank you very much for this useful article. I'm not an English teacher, but I really want to teach English for my kids. I started from words , but nothing more than this. I don't know how to put them in a lesson more than a minute.Now I'm thinking about making a short fun dialogue and encourage them to act as the comic characters they like. I hope that it would be work. Voting up!!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Nitpitchaya,

Thank you very much for reading and commenting on this article. I'm very happy that you find this hub useful and that it will help you teach your kids. Good luck in your teaching!


bakyt 11 months ago

It is very useful article for teachers. Thanks. It will help me.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 10 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Thanks for the great comment! I'm happy you found this hub useful!

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