Ok, I got the idea from a book called Teaching Oral English K-8, but I've used it with my undergrad and adult learners, all to wonderful effect.
1) Explain that in English you have to give stress to certain words to deliver certain meanings: review examples like "Oh" and give emphasis to disappointment, anger, surprise, grasp idea etc...
2) Model a sentence like
You want me to give you money
Throwing emphasis first on MONEY? and then GIVE? and YOU? etc...
3)This moronically simple dialog can be committed to memory:
A: Hi, how are you?
B: Fine, thank you. And you?
A: Just great. What have you been doing lately?
B: Oh, not much. But I've been keeping busy.
A: Well...it's been good to see you.
B: Yes, it has...well, bye!
Do group choral response till they seem to know it, then have them practice in pairs, still keeping an uninflected normal neutral tone.
THEN: give each pair a situation, emphasizing that it's SECRET and they musn't show it to anyone else, that they will act it out and others will have to GUESS who they are by their inflection, gestures and body language. (I suggest writing the situations on index cards, very simply: "You are two people who have just met but don't really know each other, and feel obliged to make small talk on an elevator"....)
Some situations (be creative!):
1) two athletes (boxers?) who will compete in a match tomorrow
2)a sick person in hospital and friend who visits
3) two old people who are all but deaf
4) a robot and his designer
5) a divorced couple
6) a couple who's love is doomed by marriage promised to others
7) a teacher and a student suffering from infatuation
8)two people who are angry at each other
9) a landlady and her overdue tenant
10) a teacher who has given a student a bad grade, they meet years later
11)two people who have met before, but can't remember where
12) two spies who are meeting late at night
13) two old friends who run into each other on a railway platform
14)?? Confucius meets Lao Tze in heaven?
15) a detective and a criminal
The idea is: they don't change the dialogue of A and B, just the inflection/intonation to suit the situation...
4)After each pair has practiced about 5 min or so, hopefully they'll have committed the simple dialogue to memory. Call each pair up and have them perform the dialogue. After each skit, the class tries to guess the situation.
It's good to ask: "How does Shirley feel towards Joanna" in this skit? If it's not clear what's happened in the skit. THen you give positive reinforcement to the actors by at least acknowledging the emotion they were trying to convey.
I found the students got into it. IT's short enough time on stage that they get a little more comfortable airing their english in public, without directing it at just the teacher....
Appreciate knowing how this works for you.
STEVE O'CONNOR in Chengdu PRC
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