Let's Go to the Mall Today: Paired Dialogue Task Ideas

A few weeks ago, we posted about student-centered paired activities meant to develop speaking skills in the classroom. We mentioned how beneficial these role play or dialogue tasks can be: they foster autonomy, responsibility, creativity, peer-teaching, fun, and authentic language output.

Today I wanted to give a quick example of one that I'll certainly be using in my Spanish class this school year, and I hope it's one that you can use too!

This task takes place at the mall (or some sort of place selling clothes--on second thought, it could be interesting to set it up in a public flea market, or maybe even a second-hand store). Here's what I want them to use when interacting with each other:

  • Articles of clothing vocabulary (pants, shirts, shoes, patterns/designs, etc.)
  • Store vocabulary (cash register, clerk, changing rooms, etc.)
  • Adjectives to describe clothing (colors, sizes, etc.)
  • One grammar point (for my Spanish class, direct object pronouns might work well here--"Do you want it?", "Would you like to try it on?")
  • A handful of useful expressions ("How much does it cost?", "It doesn't fit me", "What a bargain!")

To generate the actual conversation itself, though, we need a specific problem that the students must resolve, or try to resolve, together. (A quick tip: For lower-level students, it might be a good idea to provide and limit the possible scenarios so that the students don't spend 10 minutes of class time arguing about what to do or brainstorming outlandish, counterproductive scenarios. Older students might be more likely to get straight to work.) Here are some ideas that will surely get your kids talking:

  • A customer can't find an article of clothing in the right size, but it's necessary for an upcoming event like a wedding or a graduation.
  • A customer's credit card is declined and the customer is not happy.
  • A customer would like a refund for a damaged article of clothing that he/she didn't notice at first.
  • A customer would like to return an item of clothing but forgot the receipt at home.
  • An arrogant employee at the store is ignoring a customer.
  • A clumsy customer spills a food court beverage on a clothing display and can't afford to pay.
  • A customer finds himself/herself trapped in the changing room and can't get out!
  • A customer would like a shirt in a different pattern than what is sold at the store
  • If at a flea market: A customer and a booth attendant haggle over the price of a soccer jersey.

There are tons of possibilities here, and your students will certainly come up with their own brilliant ideas, too.

As we indicated in the original post from a few weeks ago, it may be productive, especially for less proficient students, to give students some in-class time to brainstorm and practice together without Extempore. Then, after a few test runs, ask students to record their final version on Extempore as a video prompt and submit the final product to you.

These paired role play tasks are truly student-centered and provide an excellent platform for your students to demonstrate to you what they can really do. Check back in with us soon for more specific ideas for fun role play tasks!

If you are looking for more student-centered classroom activities, we have more content for you. Below, we will link you to 29 speaking activities in a compiled eBook for you to download for FREE. Click the image link below.

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