Classroom language and TV drama

In this lesson, students identify and analyse elements of classroom dialogue.

Goals

  • Identify the elements of classroom dialogue.
  • Analyse some examples of real classroom language and classroom language presented on TV.
  • Analyse some elements of real classroom language at students' own school. 

Lesson Plan

Activities 1 and 2

The Activity pages appear in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right corner of this page (see also the arrow links at the bottom of the page). Each Activity page includes a video. Activity 1 contains an actual video of classroom dialogue. Activity 2 contains a (relatively antiquated) TV drama depicting classroom dialogue. If you like, you can try this lesson with any other video of a classroom that you would like to use.

Prepare your students by distributing the handout, which can be downloaded from the bottom of this page and printed. The handout first asks the preparatory questions shown below. These questions can be discussed with the entire class. Alternatively, a 'think, pair, share' exercise may be useful, in which students think about each question individually and write down some notes, then share their ideas with their neighbours, and then present their ideas to the class.

  • How long are the turns for the teacher compared to those for individual students?
  • How equal is the turn-taking in the video?
  • Who decides who gets the next turn? Can you see how this is decided?
  • How do turns begin and end? Are there any patterns to the language used at either end of a turn?
  • Is there any pattern to the structure of the turn-taking?
  • How many of the teacher’s turns end with questions?
  • How many students’ turns end with questions?
  • How many students’ turns consist of statements?

After the students have read through the questions, play the videos. Once the videos have ended, and students have completed their notes, discuss each question in turn. Again, you might try either a 'think, pair, share' approach, or a full class discussion from the outset.

Activity 3

As a follow-up activity, ask students to think of all the different lessons they’ve been to in the past week. They should try to make a note about the different types of lesson they’ve had. Ask the following questions:

  • How many lessons have consisted entirely of a teacher at the front of a class talking to students who listen in silence, or who only talk when they’ve been asked to speak? There might be some, but there are probably fewer of these kinds of lesson than there might have been twenty or thirty years ago.
  • How many of them have consisted of you as students working with other students in a group and discussing how to solve a problem or answer a question?
  • How many of them have consisted of students making individual or group presentations to others in the class?
  • Also, have there been times when the talk has moved away from what you should have been doing in the lesson into other areas, like chatting to a friend while a teacher’s back was turned, or while you thought he or she couldn’t hear you?

Encourage them to consider the questions in the handout as well, just as they did for Activity 1 and Activity 2. 

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