Making the Right Call: A way to practice direct speech using students’ smart phones

In my previous post, I suggested ways to make use of students’ cell phones as part of their language practice. I have one more idea I’d like to offer in connection to my most recent YouTube lesson on punctuation. In the lesson, I cover punctuation for direct speech. I think the key to correctly punctuating such statements is to identify the reporting clause. Then they can focus on where the quotation marks, commas, and final sentence punctuation go.

I recommend brief controlled practice to review word order and punctuation. You might also call attention to a limited set of reporting verbs and strengthen students’ ability to choose one accurately by calling attention to the manner or purpose expressed by the verbs. See Making the Right call_handout

When students are ready for communicative practice, ask them to get into pairs. Each pair needs one smartphone with the Voice Memo app or other sound recorder.

  1. Have a grab bag of topics prepared in advance: on slips of paper, write topics that are of interest to your students, such as weekend plans, hobbies, favorite restaurant, or a good vacation spot.
  2. Each pair will get a topic card and be asked to prepare 4-6 lines of conversation on the given topic.
  3. The dialog will then be recorded via a smartphone. (Video is also possible, but audio is likely easier to manage in a group setting.)
  4. Each pair should send their file to another pair. Partners will work together to transcribe the dialog. Require different reporting verbs to be used.
  5. The transcription can be shared with the authors the dialog for correction.

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