Use of Dialogues in Developing Listening And Speaking Skills
Greek Origins of Dialogue
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.
Developing Listening and Speaking Skills
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.
Other Hubs Related to Teaching Listening and Speaking Skills
- Assessing Listening and Speaking Proficiency
Assessing listening and speaking proficiency ratings of ESL students must be improved. The U.S. Government's Interagency Language Roundtable language skill level ratings are worth using today.
- Helping ESL and EFL Students Ask Information Questions
If ESL teachers want students to improve their language skills, it is necessary to give them the needed tools for asking questions. This hub gives tips on helping ESL students ask good questions.
- Dictation Exercises for ESL and EFL Students
Dictation exercises for ESL students can be worthwhile in measuring proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This hub analyzes the results of a dictation exercise for EFL students.
© 2012 Paul Richard Kuehn
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