Teaching Speaking (5)
Simple question-answer dialogues around a given context and object/objects is another elementary method to develop speaking skill in TESOL students.
There are three types of questions in English: yes/no questions, “or” questions, and WH-questions. Consider these questions which illustrate these types: Do you drink tea? Do you prefer tea or coffee? What do you usually drink? What is this?
Perhaps the easiest question to ask is What is this? Have a number of real objects and pictures of objects with you and ask the question What is this? while pointing to the object. Supply the name of the object and the answer for the question. Following this model, repeat the question and encourage the students to provide the suitable answer.
From this simple process of starting a dialogue, you may proceed to ask more complex questions. Note that the Yes/No questions are also easy to answer. The “Or” questions need more practice to answer.
How do we teach a dialogue? There are three types of drills one could use in the class: choral drill in which the entire class participates in one voice with the teacher modeling the utterance; chain drill in which one student asks the question and another answers, and in this way the entire class participates as a chain; and individual drill in which individual students are pointed out and asked to produce the utterance modeled by the teacher.
We recommend that you start with some form of choral drill, then proceed to chain drill, and finally ask individual students to answer your questions directly (individual drill). The class may be divided into two sections, one section repeating the question and another answering it. If role play is involved, assign roles to the sections.
The teacher can assume one of the roles among children. It is always fun when the teacher associates herself with some role and assigns the other roles to students. We can set up puppets, stick figures on the board, pictures, or even live objects for the roles, and the teacher will go behind each of these and produce their utterances as models (Bowen, et al. 1985). The teacher can create pretend situations and give students some model questions to ask these objects. Through dialogue accommodation we modify the dialogues so that the roles and names in the dialogue are made suitable to the participants.
The question-answer dialogue may take the following format: The teacher may write the example on the board or model the example orally. The students will repeat the model. Then the teacher asks questions and the students give answers. The teacher then gives some cues for additional dialogue question-answers. The students ask each other questions. After this has been practiced for some time, the students are encouraged to make up their questions and answers. All these must be done within the limits of words and structures already known to the students.
Long answers are elicited using several strategies. The teacher gives a question and asks for a long and complete answer. What is your name? My name is Susan Madison. A question such as “What do you do in the morning?” generally leads to a long answer. Likewise, a question such as “Tell me about your work” results in a long answer. Questions on the previous lesson generally lead to long answers.
Eliciting long answers helps the student to compose his thoughts in English, search for appropriate words and structures and use them in the appropriate order. This brings out explicitly his grammatical knowledge (knowledge about the structure of English). Note, however, that in normal conversations long answers are not often expected or given.
As their knowledge of and proficiency in using words and structures increase, the teacher can ask her students to talk about real life, about themselves, their friends, things in the world and so on. The teacher can suggest some imaginary situations or the students themselves may assume an imaginary situation and engage themselves in conversation. In such free oral practice, the students may be asked to build the content of a dialogue by giving one sentence each (Doff 1988). There will be some initial reluctance on the part of the students, but such reluctance should be overcome.