TEFL Skills: reading 7. Tasks for reading activities: completing continuous dialogues

Skills: reading 7. Tasks for reading activities: completing continuous dialogues

The TEFL Centre in Malaga supplies a TEFL course syllabus that provides both  time-honoured TEFL wisdom as well as more avantgarde techniques and skills. One of the reasons for encouraging an experimental attitude towards classroom teaching is that it can be an important source for engaging students and keeping their attention.

This is never more the case than when we are training our students to pass exams, a process that can all too often become boring and monotonous.

A well known exam question type is completing continuous dialogues. This consists of a series of conversational exchanges, but one of the speaker’s contributions have been removed and placed in a list in a jumbled order next to the original (ordered) dialogue. The exam candidate has to identify which contribution from this list  fits in which part of the dialogue of the other speaker’s contributions.

Here are a few suggestions for practising this exam task in the classroom:
  1. Take a conversation from an appropriate TEFL textbook and either type it out on a ‘Word’ document or scan it with OCR (Optical Character Recognition).
  2. When you have the dialogue, separate the individual contributions with the ‘enter’ key sufficiently enough to allow you to cut up the dialogue into discreet slips of paper, each with a speaker contribution.
  3. From here you can simply hand out the jumbled up dialogue and ask the student to reconstruct it.
  4. Alternatively you could give out equal numbers of the pieces of paper to each student and ask them to read out their slips of paper. They then (without being able to see each others papers) try to decide collectively who has the first contribution, the second contribution etc. This requires each student to read out the contributions in turn (usually quite a few times) until they collectively declare they have reconstructed the dialogue. If done on small groups it could also be done as a game – the first team to correctly reconstruct the dialogue.
  5. Another activity would be to give the original dialogue to groups of students and ask them to create a series of distractor contributions which cannot fit into the dialogue either due to them being grammatical, contextual or register non-sequiturs. They can then be added to the original dialogue document, cut up and shared out to the other groups whose task is to identify and remove the invented distractor contributions.
  6. Also possible would be to put students into pairs and have each pair within reach of a bell (the reception bell type). The teacher then gives the ordered dialogue to each pair and reads out contributions from the jumbled extracted contributions at random. As soon as a pair thinks they know where one of the options being read out belongs in the dialogue, they hit the bell and tell the teacher where it belongs. If correct, they can win a point. However if incorrect they should lose a point (otherwise students could try any combination simply to get a point through chance).


Tags: TEFL training, Skills, reading, Tasks, completing continuous dialogues
Posted on September 29th, 2017


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