Dialogue Activities for ESL Students are often taught in language ESL classrooms.
Most ESL and TEFL teachers teach some sort of dialogue lesson to practice grammar, vocabulary, or conversation structures.
Whether a class is big or small, teaching a dialogue is straight forward, but at times are dry and teachers can be frustrated and at a loss of ideas.
However, teaching a dialogue actually can be a fun activity where the students are busy speaking, creating and practicing content. Here are some suggestions to help teachers get started.
Watch Your Time-Prepare Wisely For Dialogue Activities
To start, teachers need to be aware that dialogue activities are not meant to be a long-term lesson. I suggest keeping your dialogue activity and content within 10-15 minutes. Unless teachers have a class that can focus and is motivated to learn the grammar or structures, the content can become a bit boring for students after a certain time. As a teacher, keep aware of your class disposition as you proceed through a lesson.
Dialogue Activities for ESL Students Steps
Here are a few steps to construct a dialogue lesson for any age or ESL level.
Introduce and Practice the Structure Clearly-Teacher Led
The first activity teachers need to remember to organize is a proper introduction of the dialogue, sentence patterns, or vocabulary.
Let’s say for example, the dialogue structures is
Q: What to you have? A: I have…..
Using a whiteboard or projector, lay out clearly many examples of the Q/A structure for your students to see. Give many examples of different vocabulary that can be interchanged and practiced with the class.
In 2 columns, write the question on the left and answers on the right. Organize the content so students can read the question and an answer on the right of it.
One by one, practice read and repeat with your students. Call on some individually to read. Practice pronunciation!!
Step 2: Call and Response Q/A-Group Activity
You students have practiced and heard you read a repeat the dialogue and variations for the last 5 minutes. Now it is time for them to practice together.
The old Call and Response Activity works well here.
Divide your class into 2 groups.
One group, in unison, asks the question (still on the board) and the other group answers it.
From the top of the list, the teacher points to the question and the students answer. Go down the list.
What do you have? I have a pencil. What do you have? I have a computer. etc.
The class should be active and the students talking.
Be creative and try different variations to get as much practice as possible.
Dialogue Activities for ESL Students: Use Chanting
After the call and response, teachers can organize a group chant of the questions and answers.
Start from the top of the list and have the students ask the question together and then answer the question together.
Teachers can clap and create a rhythm to asking and responding. The activity is fun and the students will enjoy it.
The goal of this activity is to give students more chances to practice the entire dialogue and vocabulary as a group so shy students won’t feel to intimidated speaking alone and in front of the class.
Read below about changing the dialogue and elements to give more chanting practice.
Change the Dialogue Elements
Although teachers have a structure to practice, they should not be afraid to change up elements of the dialogue.
Change the subject if you can. Instead of I have a…., change to You have a, We have a, or even start the 3rd person He has a , She has a….
Teachers can add more vocabulary into the structure as well.
Pair them up- Let the students work together
After the Call and Response Activity, teachers can pair up students and let them work together asking and answering questions themselves.
Students are motivated to work with peers. Also, the teacher can walk around and listen and correct with certain students that made need more help.
All in all, pairing up allows students to practice the dialogue more.
A Final Tip: Dialogue Activities for ESL Students
Combine Dialogues Together to Expand Practice
Teachers should be aware that as their students advance and learn more structures that they can find ways to combine structures and dialogues to make longer conversations and challenge students.
If the dialogue is What do you have? I have a… , teachers may be able to mix it with a dialogue using Where will you go? An example.
Where will you go? I will go to the park.
What do you have? I have a ball.
Ok. See you later.
See you later.
If a school is only giving you one skill to practice, don’t be afraid to think out of the box and give your students a bit more.
Good luck in the classroom.