Dramatic Dialogues

One effective way of improving the speaking abilities of children is through using Dramatic dialogues. These are funny 2-person dialogues incorporating key grammatical structures. The children role play the dialogue in pairs, first just reading , then they swap roles. Then repeat the process but this time get them acting (adding more expression). This is fun, but the essental point is that repetition is necessary for learners to take in new structures, yet children have a short boredom threshold. The secret is not to keep changing activities. If the language focus changes too often, they won´t take it in. The secret is to keep the same langauge focus but modify the activity slightly so that it appears to be a different activity, (i.e swap roles, swap partners, now do it with expression etc). Yes, it´s called cheating. But it works.

As an example, here is the fisrt part of a Dramatic Dialogue which practises the present perfect with yet and already.

           Spies on Holiday

James Bond:              Have you booked the hotel yet?

Lara Croft:                  Yes, I’ve already booked the hotel.

James Bond:              Which hotel have you booked?

Lara Croft:                  I’ve booked the Hotel Paris. It’s very good.

James Bond:              Have you bought the super-micro film yet?

Lara Croft:                  No, I haven’t bought the super-micro film yet.

James Bond:              We need the super micro-film!

Lara Croft:                  I know. I know.

James Bond:              When are you going to buy it?

Lara Croft:                  I’ll buy it today.

James Bond:              Have you packed the gun yet?

Lara Croft:                  Yes, I’ve already the gun.

This is followed by a gapped version with the key words gapped out. The students go through this again pairs doing it orally, NOT FILLING IT IN! Not only is it better for them to practice orally, if they don´t fill it in you can reuse it again and again as a quick 5-minute filler. 

Go through again with your partner but DO NOT WRITE ANYTHING!!

James Bond:              _____________________hotel yet?

Lara Croft:                  Yes, ________________ hotel.

James Bond:              Which hotel_______________?

Lara Croft:                  I _____________Hotel Paris. It’s very good.

James Bond:              ___________________the super-micro film yet?

Lara Croft:                  No, ________________the super-micro film yet.

James Bond:              We need the super micro-film!

Lara Croft:                  I know. I know. I________ it today.

James Bond:              _____________ (pack) the gun yet?

Lara Croft:                  Yes, _______________the gun

As with all drilling however, it is essential to bear in mind 2 points:

1: Drilling must be done at a very brisk pace.

2: Drilling is not an end in itself – it is a means to and end. That end is learners being able to use the target structures naturally in freer practice. Once the learners are confident in getting their mouths round the target language, once they can remember it (i.e. it has gone into short term memory) then they can immediately (i.e. in the same lesson) move on to some kind of  controlled practice, and then, again in the same lesson, some freer practice.

Here are the typical stages I go through when using Dramatic dialogues.



1.Make sure the students already understand the basic grammar point.                                                                                  

2.Pre-teach any new vocabulary in the dialogue. It can be a good opportunity to 

      add a little new vocabulary.

3.Students read in pairs.                                                                           2 minutes

4.Students swap roles and repeat.                                                           2 mins

5.Students swap partners and repeat.*                                                    3 mins

6.Demonstrate the idea of how to act.                                                      1 min

7.Students repeat, but acting. With original or new partners.                   2 mins

8.Students do the gapped version in pairs, NOT writing!                         2 mins

9.students do skeleton version in pairs.         NOT writing!                      2 mins

10.  Students act out the dialogue with the work sheet covered!              2 mins

      They can to some extent invent here. This can become semi-free practice

      – provided they use the target language

11.  select a group to act out in front of the class, with or without script.      2 mins                              

                                                                                                         20 minutes aprox

Dramatic Dialogues teacher´s notes   

Dramatic Dialogues: Present perfect - Have you ever ...?

Dramatic Dialogues: Past simple         

Dramatic dialogues: Present perfect - yet already

Dramatic Dialogues: Second conditional    

Dramatic Dialogues: Going to - The Fortune Teller

Dramatic Dialogues: First conditional        

Dramatic Dialogues: Present continuous


Dramatic Dialogues: Can you ...?          

Dramatic Dialogues: Have you got ...?

Dramatic Dialoges: Are you ...?

Have you got any comments or suggestions?

 Back to Speaking activities         Back to Home