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Teaching Tips 18

Component parts
Dramatic monologues
Dictate the information


Component parts

When teaching vocabulary it's sometimes very difficult to get the exact meaning across to the students. This is especially so the more advanced the learners are as the language becomes more diverse & subtle. One way of looking at meaning is called 'Componential Analysis'. This aims to sort out the subtle differences between similar words. It is basically a chart that has the words that
you're focusing on on one axis & on the other the different
collocates or components that go to make up the meanings. Check out the page on the site for examples of collocation charts.

They are easy to design but do need a bit of thought. Give out the chart & ask your students to fill it in - tell them to use their intuition - does it sound right to them? Then they can compare with your version & discuss possibilities. You do need to be very clear about the possibilities before giving them to your students.

I first came across this in a book called 'The Words You Need' & 'More Words You Need' by Rudzka et al (Longman). At Amazon.uk they are out of stock & at Keltic they are out of print.

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Dramatic monologues
Do you know the book 'Dramatic Monologues' by Colin Mortimer (CUP)? A great little book with 24 monologues & accompanying questions &, of course, the tape. The back cover says that 'the monologues are designed to increase students' responsiveness to implicatory language by helping them to listen intelligently & interpret what they hear.'

Each monologue is centred around a situation - e.g. a bank manager talking to a client whose newly wed young wife is spending all of his money, a couple stuck in a lift, someone in authority sacking an employee, a convict asking to stay in prison over the Xmas holidays rather than being released the day before Xmas (my favourite) etc.... There are some homemade examples on the site.

The way I usually deal with a monologue like this is to play a little bit of the monologue (the first sentence or first few words) & then ask the students in pairs to discuss what they think is happening, then another bit, then more discussion & so on until they work it out or we reach the end of the text. If they still have problems, I then give out the text & they listen to the whole text & read at the same time. Then on to the questions, which they answer in pairs & finally we look at some interesting aspect of the speaking skill or language in the monologue.

The students are not only using their inference skills to work out the situation but there are very rich conversations taking place when they compare ideas. Listen to the kind of things they are saying & feed in more options for them. A follow up task could be to write the silent person's responses.

The book's monologues provide challenging listening but they can be re-recorded to make them easier & you can easily write your own if you want a monologue on a specific topic to fit into your scheme of work.

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Dictate the information
Do you spend your time making copies for your students & writing on the board? To save time & paper try incorporating dictation as a tool in your classroom management. Here are some examples when it can be a useful timesaver:

- dictate comprehension questions for a reading or listening text & then get a stronger student to read them back for all to check they have them right.

- for prediction activities - just dictate the vocabulary that you want the students to use in their prediction discussion.

- dictation is good for unjumbling tasks - e.g. you are going to review the lexical set of buying a house so dictate the vocab, mixed up & then they unjumble them together into a reasonable chronological order -'pack your things ready for the move, sign the contract, get a surveyor to look at the house, talk to the bank about a mortgage, look at the house, visit the estate agent, etc...'

- dictate discussion points.

- if necessary, dictate instructions to a complicated activity.

It's not being lazy but a way of being more efficient in the classroom - you've got enough to think about & do. Use dictation to save you time & the more you use it the more uses you'll find for it.

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