Bringing a recording & transcript alive…but ditch the rest of the course book!

Hi everyone.

Would love to share something with you which I did in a couple of my lessons a few days ago.  The outcome really surprised me and put a big smile on my face and even more so cos the lessons were after a long long day at work, both for me and my learners.   It’s not exactly pure out & out Dogme, 100% material and preperation free but I did do my best to keep the materials and pre-printed / published garbage to a minimum.  I will let you be the judge on if I succeeded or not regarding Dogme (not sure I did), but what I can say for sure is that it was an outstanding success in the classroom 🙂

In the previous 2 x 90 minute lessons with another trainer (due to me being stuck at home recovering from an op), my two classes who are around and about B2 / C1 levels had been examining & dealing with telephone language.  On receipt of feedback from the trainer and class, I soon realised that the lessons were very study based and didn’t contain a great deal of activation.  This had to be rectified and this would be the focus of my lesson “activation”.

I chose a relevant & suitable CD / Mp3 recording of a telphone conversation / exchange suitable for the levels (yes from a course book…sorry!).   Needless to say for your purpose this recorded dialogue could be based on any situation / context.  You will also need to have a copy of the transcript. (again published course book…sorry again!  Please forgive me though as in this case the material was actually not too bad 🙂 )

Prior to the lesson I made a blank dialogue template.  The rows were numbered and also initialled based on the order & the speaker in the dialogue.  This template was named “what’s said?”.  I also made another simple template very similar to the previous one but this one was titled “what’s happening?”.

The task started with me describing the idea, instructions and ultimate goal for the task as a whole and then again for the first stage of the task.  I generally do this explaining and justifying for most tasks / mini-tasks / stages of tasks.  The first stage was to simply listen to the dialogue.

The 2nd stage was to listen again and get a ‘gist’ of the meaning and of what was going on, and also to find out the names of the people involved in the dialogue and also who talks to who.  (obviously these mini tasks can be adjusted based on the dialogue and your preference)

So following the 1st & 2nd listening and a little feedback session we moved on to stage 3.  For stage 3, the recording was played again.  This time the Ss hd to decide what is the function / purpose / for each spoken utterance and also comment on manner, attitude and emotion.  After each person in the recorded dialogue had finished their speech / utterance, the CD was stopped to allow the Ss to make notes on the pre-prepared  “what’s happening” .  The Ss weren’t allowed to write down what was said but rather what was happening – this is very important.  At the end of the dialogue there was review /  sharing via feedback.     The Ss now had an overview of language content & function and an accurate structure of the recorded dialogue.

Stage 4:  Ss in pairs re-created their own version of the dialogue using and sticking to the structure & purpose of the recorded dialogue.  The Ss are encouraged to be creative and to make it relevant to their world and events.  Obviously the idea of doing it in pairs was to encourage discussion, debate and sharing of knowledge.

Stage 5:  The dialogues were swapped with other peers.  The dialogues were then reviewed, corrected and more importantly improved!  (made more professional, more polite, more indirect, given more feeling / emotion / meat on the bone….whatever your focus)

Stage 6:  As a group they would all read out their dialogues.   Then as a group we would deal with any form / pronunciation challenges (I used the task, slightly modified from teaching unpugged where I list a number of utterances / sentences and the groups have to discuss and decide if the utterances are successful or if  it had any fundamental mistakes or if it could be further improved and expressed better)

Stage 7:  This was ‘notes away’ time and ‘real-pla’y time.  Following the real-plays all Ss were encouraged to provide feeedback on performance and improvements.

Stage 8 (which I didnt have time to do):   Ss can then listen to the recorded dialogue again.  They are then given a copy of the transcript but with missing keywords.  Ss have to complete the dialogue and then compare the language used in the recorded dialogue to the language they used in their own dialogue.  Differences / variances are then discussed as a group and new language recored and expanded.

So in a nutshell that is basically it.  This was my first time I used this method.  I kind of created the idea myself even though I am sure many have done exactly or similar things before.  I think there are few rough edges that need to refined to make the task even more productive.  I would love to hear your thoughts and comments and would really like to invite you to use it in your class.  Best of luck!

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