The one-sided phone conversation

Have you ever listened to someone talk on the phone to someone else?  As you listen to half of the conversation, do you wonder what the voice on the other end of the line is saying?  Do you ever try to guess?  I do.  I was doing it the other day as we were in the car and my wife was talking on the phone.  Of course, I was filling in the gaps with nonsense that was not appreciated near as much by my wife as by me.  The experience turned into an activity for class.

A couple disclaimers before I explain:

  1. This activity seems to be very communicative in nature.  You can see my thoughts on communicative activities here.  In short, I believe they should be used sparingly.  However, if you structure it correctly, you can use this activity to provide quality input.
  2. This activity may seem frighteningly similar to a lame textbook task.  In order to avoid that fate, be creative and personal and allow the students room to be creative and personal.

The premise is pretty simple.  Create one half of a phone conversation and tell students to fill in the other half.  Encourage creativity.  There may be some vocabulary/structures you’re hoping to elicit, but there should not be any right or wrong answers.  Then, simulate the phone call with you reading the existing parts and students reading what they’ve written.  Any structure that you want to rep as input should be in the existing conversation, so you can model correct use and guarantee several reps.

Here’s an example in English.  As usual, you’ll need something that fits your class.

  • Hello
  • I’m sitting at my desk at work.
  • No.  I can’t do that.
  • Are you serious?  How did that happen?
  • I can’t believe it.  Will you ever learn?
  • I could be there in 10 minutes.  What should I bring?
  • My uncle is a lawyer.  Should I call him?
  •  Where are you now?
  • Maybe you should hide somewhere.  Do you know a good place where no one will look for you?
  • Ok.  I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.  Don’t do anything else stupid.
  • We’ll see.  I’m pretty disappointed right now.
  • I doubt it.
  • Bye.


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