Abstract dialogs are well known in the drama arena but are also excellent for advanced ESL students, or in any language classroom. The idea behind abstract dialogs is that the setting or characters are not given, but rather a number of sentences whose underlying meaning has to be interpreted by the "actors". If another language is taught, such dialogs can be easily created in the thatlanguage.
But abstract dialogs are also great for social groups. Parties, scouts, or an evening of fun, these dialogs are the perfect means for interaction or getting to know new people. Here is an example of an abstract dialog script:
A: And he never did.
B: You're wrong. He did.
A: Where did you hear that? Who told you?
B: Yesterday at the hair salon. Michael told me.
A: I still don't believe it.
B: Just have a look at this. Maybe you will change your mind.
A: I don't believe it!
Participants have to decide who the speakers are, what they are referring to, what happened before and after this scene.
For lists of free downloadable abstract scripts look on this site.
If you want to write your own dialogs or have students write them, you need a list of topics you can choose from. If you are working on a theme, write a dialog to suit it, but if you are looking for creative ideas for writing or acting, here are some of the list on this site:
Argument between two friends / mother and son / dog and cat / two flies on the ceiling / two policemen / three birds wanting the same worm.
Many more ideas are on this site: click here
Do you want to keep your kids entertained? Instead of games, craft, computer activities or playing with toys, ask the kids to write a short story about some topics you can list and they can choose from. Kids love creating stories. Story writing can be taken seriously, or be done just for fun to express feelings or tell a tale. Ideas for these kinds of short essay/stories can be seen here on the site. Use the prompts for ideas, or think up your own. Take a title from a book they know and tell them to write their own version of the story, or show them a picture and have them create a story about it.
Being a crafter as well as a teacher I see the benefit of creativity in learning. I have just started doing a collage journal after learning about it from the artist Jane Davenport. While I am using craft pens, papers and paints, students can just cut up magazines and then write about their art. A great way to enable all learners to express themselves.
For practicing a particular grammar structure, write dialog role play scripts for the students to use the new grammar. Instead of disconnected sentences, the role play enables language learners to use the structures verbally in a real situation, even if the idea is imaginary or unlikely.
Here is an example of a grammar role play script. You can get the students to write their own. Teachers can check the students' results, correct the mistakes, write up the dialogs and have a cache to work from in the classroom (and kept for future lessons).
"In the Clothing Store" (Practicing the Present Simple)
Hi, do you work here at the store?
Yes, I do.
Please help me find some clothes for my graduation party.
Sure. Do you want something formal?
Not too formal. I like clothes that are comfortable. I hate tight-fitting uncomfortable shirts and pants. I want a nice color. I don't want a light color, and I prefer clothes that I can wash in the washing machine.
I think I have the perfect outfit for you. Look here, this one is really beautiful, don't you think?
That's lovely. I have enough money for it too; it is not too expensive either. I really like this one. Thank you for helping me.
You are welcome. I hope you enjoy wearing it.
For more grammar dialog role play scripts, check out the menu on this site
Not me!!, said the cat.
Sometimes when you feel rather exhausted from looking for creative and interesting things to do in your Esl classroom, you need to change the focus. What I mean is that often the teacher is trying to offer the most exciting and colorful lessons and that most of the work is being done by the teacher and not the students.
Change the doer.
Create lessons in which presentations are given by the students, pair work is presented, group work and assignments are worked on in class. Of course the teacher needs to present and teach the particular structure necessary but practice and the real learning can be done in a variety of ways by the students themselves.
Analyze your lessons and take a different look at your teaching methods. Are you doing most of the work?
Just as one might think of a week of menus for the family, so too can one think of a list of ideas for your lessons. I am talking about the warm-ups and cool-down exercises and not the core curriculum that you are following. Make a list of "speaking ideas", "creative writing ideas" etc slowly compiling a separate list from your daily lesson plan. In this way, in the future you will have a booklet for each of the skills with creative ideas inside.
Practicing grammar through role play is an effective, enjoyable way to repeat structures and vocabulary. It isn't too difficult to write your own dialogs for your students, or even get them to write their own after you have taught them the new structure. Collect all the student-made dialogs, check them, type them up and distribute them to other students for practice. Furthermore, you can keep them in a folder and use them with your next class when they start the same section. See the list of grammar dialog scripts on this site.
Esl Ideas.com presents a quick list of conversation topics you can use tomorrow - or anytime, to present to your students, to give as a homework assignment, to offer those who want to study at home and improve their level. Check out "Speaking Ideas" on this site.
Today, most kids have a camera, or cellphone with a camera, so asking them to take a picture of something is easy. A homework project, weekend assignment, or prompt for a conversation class is workable. Tell the students what they need to photograph (based on theme, or another of your lessons) and have them bring in that photo for the writing, speaking, or presentation lesson.
Hello fellow teachers,