Eavesdropping

Encourage students to listen to the natural language around them. Even the tiniest snippet of language can turn into a really productive class.

I was walking down Exeter high street one day when I passed two girls in their 20s chatting. One of them said to the other…

I wondered what came next: …handsome guy I’ve ever seen? …annoying person to watch a movie with? …famous person I’ve ever seen in McDonalds?

I asked my students to do the same. Have a walk around and eavesdrop on conversations. Here’s how I structured it…


1. Give students an example of something you’ve overheard like the one above. Then get them to do the same. This is obviously much easier to do if you’re in an English-speaking environment. If not, you could get them to eavesdrop around the school or even play short sections of talk radio stations. The more natural the better. Make it clear that they don’t need to note down a whole conversation – only a snippet.

2. When they’ve done this write your snippet on the whiteboard and then invite students to suggest what might have come before or after. Board these ideas and you might end up with something like this…

3. Try to lead the conversation so that it’s unusual or has a twist and invite a student up to help you act it out

 

4. Put the students in pairs or small groups and have them do the same. While students are working, it’s a good opportunity for you to monitor and feed in language that might be new or useful.

5. Have students act out their dialogues for the class or other groups. 

6. Change the context. Go back to the original snippet and have students suggest a different situation. For example, change from teenagers chatting to a mother and child having an argument. See how the dialogue changes. Also, allow other students to switch places with the actors if they have a different idea.

Experiment with it and have fun!

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