Dialogues with young learners

Dialogues with young learners

When speaking about dialogues in the ESL classroom, the first thing that comes to our minds is reading and parroting. That is why this activity is sometimes neglected in our classes. Dialogues convey more than repetition, they include interaction, vocabulary practice, question formation, development of creative thinking, working on stress and intonation, etc. Here we will provide tips and ideas on how to use dialogues with kids in creative and interactive ways. 

Must steps to conduct a proper dialogue 

  • Teach the specific vocabulary. Remember that without good vocabulary your kids will face many obstacles to interact with their pairs. For example, for shopping students can practice exchanges of trying on clothing, asking for a different size, paying for the products, etc. Hence, do your best to provide them with the specific vocabulary they will need. Of course, the best way to do it is through games or matching exercises. Here you can find additional information on how to pre-teach vocabulary to kids. Tell them they are going to use the newly learnt words in their dialogues.
  • Introduce collocations, short phrases and sentences that can be used in the dialogues. Ask them to listen to these phrases and then drill them. 
  •  Have students practise each situation several times.

Things to do with dialogues

  • Talking words

Students work in pairs. They get a topic to talk about for a minute. They are also given a framework to use in their dialogues. 

Example topics: my summer holidays, my favourite subject at school, my hobby

Framework: Hello, what is your favourite subject at school?/what do you think of Geography?/What about Maths?

Hello, let’s talk about your summer holidays/tell me about your summer holidays.

  • Two truths and one lie

Ask your students to think of two true statements about them and one lie. Then they should ask each other questions to identify the lie. 

For example: 

Student A: 1) I can play the piano very well.

2) I spent my weekend in Sochi.

3) I have a dog.

Student B: 1)  When did you learn it?

Who taught you to play the piano?

Can you play without your teacher’s help?

2) When did you go there?

With whom did you go?

How did you get there?

What did you do in Sochi?

3) What’s your dog’s name?

How old is your dog?

Do you take your dog for a walk?

  • Who am I? 

Get your students to work in pairs. One of them should stick a note with a famous person or an animal on his/her classmate’s forehead. The later must guess who he/she is by asking questions like “Am I a boy?”, “Can I jump?”, “What’s the colour of my hair?”, etc.

  • Chop up

Jumble the sentences of the dialogue and ask your students to reorder them within a time limit. Then ask them to perform the dialogue and invent their own ones.

  • Dialogues based on photo stories 

Choose a storyboard for your students. Ask them to invent a story based on the picture and act it out with their classmates. You can find storyboard templates on Creately.com and on Pinterest

  • Add nonsense

Remove keywords from the dialogue and put them in the wrong places to have a nonsense. Students read the dialogue and try to put the words in their right places within a time limit. After completing the activity ask your kids to act out the dialogue without looking at the text. 

By carrying out these activities in your ESL classroom you will  improve your students’ self-confidence, creativity, team-work and willingness to participate.


Вероника Аветисян

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