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Basic Communication Activity Ideas for your Beginner ESL Class

written by: Audrey Alleyne • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 8/2/2012

Communication in second language acquisition is as important for the teacher to communicate effectively with the students as it is for the students to communicate with each other.

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    Teacher As A Model

    A teacher must know how to communicate the listening, speaking, reading and writing skills so that students can comprehend and use the new language. The teacher’s actions will serve as a model for the students to follow. There are some rules that the teacher could follow in order to achieve his or her goals, and by so doing help the students to achieve their goals.

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    Communicative Skills

    Interpersonal communicative skills involve body language, such as physical gestures and facial expressions. The teacher should also emphasize intonation and rhythm in the language, in addition to pronunciation and accent reduction. He or she should be careful in correcting students’ mistakes and try as much as possible to use examples, rather than give explanations. Examples work much better for understanding. For example, in teaching a lesson about opposites, the teacher can demonstrate by using his or her skirt, dress or pants to show that it is too tight or too big, too short or too long; or by drawing on the board. This helps students to absorb the information more easily than just using a list of words. Adding pictures to words is a great way to share communication skills.

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    The Early Stages

    In the early stages of learning a language, students tend to respond with simple answers of yes and no to questions. Teachers should try to elicit sentences: simple and short at first, and gradually longer sentences. Moving on from simple sentences will involve new vocabulary and the improvement of pronunciation and intonation. Here are some ways in which this could be done.

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    Greetings and Farewells

    Divide students into pairs and groups, and have them act out certain everyday situations, like meeting each other at a party or at a language school in a foreign country; at a beach or swimming pool; on vacation or at a conference. In these situations, they use the simplest forms of greeting with a bit of personal information like their names, which country they are from, where they live, and expressions for bidding each other farewell.

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    Some More Ideas

    In succeeding lessons, students can practice requesting information and assistance and giving information and assistance, like giving directions to a certain place. As they progress, they learn to describe and express feelings and give opinions.

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    Play At Giving Directions

    Giving and taking directions play a major role in everyday life, As a game, this can be used for students to practice their listening, understanding and speaking skills. Hide picture card of various buildings found in a town in and around the classroom, or even better, in a playfield. Have students pretend to be passers-by and tourists. The tourist or a tourist couple would ask for directions and as the passer-by gives the directions, the student or students repeat them. The tourist(s) says thank you and proceed to follow the directions. When the building is found, for example a school, library or restaurant, it is brought back to the passer-by who confirms to the teacher that the student did follow the correct directions.

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    Improved Communication

    By using more body language rather than relying on the textbook, the language becomes more relevant to situations. Communication in second language acquisition begins to kick in as students tend to begin thinking in the new language as opposed to translating from their native language. At this point, a deeper level of grammar instruction can be presented with more extensive vocabulary, which will lead students on to greater communicative skills. They will then be able to converse on subjects like ordering food, comparing things, shopping, and solving problems among other aspects of vocabulary development.