Dialogue is an Active Form of Work in Teaching Foreign Languages

Janne Hakobyan

In our everyday work on teaching a foreign language, we often try using dialogue in the organization of educational activities. Situations of a new dialogue often arise at our lessons spontaneously: a topic for conversation, a question of a student or teacher, news brought and discussed in the classroom, a case from personal experience can be the start of a dialogue. All this presupposes and results in long discussions, disputes, during which we get to know each other better, express our opinions, points of views on different topics and problems that are relevant or vital to us. During the spontaneous dialogue situations, students actively and enthusiastically take part in discussions, expressing their own opinions, arguing, defending their points of view, freely formulate their suggestions concerning their own education, which are sometimes no less effective than those offered by the teacher.

Project-based teaching learning activities of the author educational program of our EduComplex, is very well suited for organizing lessons with dialogues, as it gives freedom to the teacher, the organizer of his/her teaching time and the whole educational process. Project activity is a wide field of activity, a platform where everyone can be heard, read, and understood. It’s not a secret for anyone that a traditional school cannot give students such an opportunity, at least, because the pedagogical approaches there are completely different from those of the alternative schools, and projects there are rare most often having the nature of an event or undertaking, rather than a method, form of organizing lessons. 

During the winter project camp, I carried out the project “I want to say”, which was a discussion of topics that were interesting for high school students. The aim of the project was to teach students to exchange remarks in appropriate situations, i.e. to teach them to conduct a dialogue, develop oral speech and communicative competence, to establish and maintain purposeful contacts through the language. The students were involved in the learning process. There was no sign of passiveness, indifference, any decline of interest in discussions.  As teacher, we are, of course, interested in the activity, interest, involvement to be arisen at every lesson, therefore we take targeted actions to create and organize dialogue situations, i.e. situations in which previously demonstrated skills would be demonstrated within a longer period of teaching time than at scattered instances. The purposeful use of dialogical teaching techniques generates the manifestation of the student’s “I-ego” through the expression of their opinions. Turning to dialogue allows the teacher to build teacher-student partnerships.

The use of various types of dialogue is observed in the educational practice. A topic spontaneously becomes the subject of discussion while conducting a “Spontaneous”, “natural” dialogue, and the students exchange remarks, express opinions. 

The dialogue organized by the teacher is a way of creating educational activity, which is based on the participants’ experience and preferences and helps to open the content of education for each of the students in an individual field.

The potential of using dialogues during the lessons helps to promote the learners’ communicative competence, organize their independent study of the subject matter, and develop their ability to identify the presented material with their current personal needs and knowledge. It is worth emphasizing the importance of developing these competencies at the lessons of teaching foreign languages, which is to become not only a means of understanding the world and access to information, but also a means of ensuring interpersonal communication.

In order for the dialogue to “work”, to be able to show its potential, a special organization of joint activities is needed, which is carried out by the participants. An essential feature of the dialogue is the need to follow the line of interlocutor’s thought, sometimes unexpected, leading to a change of topics. Here we have spontaneity of reactions, the inability to plan the course of the dialogue beforehand. This is what makes such a lesson interesting.

In addition to that, the essence of the dialogue, its functions are used by today's student in the media space: today you can talk, have a constructive dialogue not only at the lesson, but also with friends who are far away or who you know on a virtual level.

Our numerous educational camps and educational exchange programs know neither boundaries nor time: students from other countries come and go, but you continue to communicate with them, listen to them, tell them about your activities, agree with them, tell stories. In the same way you went to them and returned, but communication was carried out by chatting, or on forums and in social networks. And the teacher is already in the background, he/she has already done his/her job, taught the learners how to conduct a dialogue, to be able to listen and express their points of view in the right way.

An exchange of information always takes when making up a dialogue, and interpersonal relationships are regulated. There should always be a subject of discussion on the basis of a dialogue. 

 Speaking about the instructional dialogue, a number of organizational aspects should be taken into account:

• no remark of such a dialogue should remain unanswered;

• the instructional dialogue is limited in time;

• if a student is not active, it means that he/she lacks enough knowledge.

In the dialogues within the framework of the project “I want to say”, the participants enriched each other mutually with different viewpoints of the problem being discussed. We paid special attention to the creation of a "speaking environment" when students were made to speak without using people's ready-made word combinations or statements, but to spontaneously make up their own.

During dialogical discussions the teacher manifests himself/herself as the learner’s partner, defends his/her opinion and at the same time listens to his/her opinions, creates a special psychological atmosphere of ease, friendly competition, co-creation, sincerity, naturalness. He is like an observing person, giving the students the opportunity to speak and shows a sincere interest in their suggestions.

The teacher’s open way of working performs a number of important functions:

• gives great belief in the teacher’s remarks concerning the dialogue interaction;

• encourages students to feel their own impressions, thoughts, relationships in the teacher’s considerations, exposes the teacher’s chain of reasoning, her/his methods, cognition, which helps the learners to reflect;

• helps the learners to take a fresh look in the course of dialogical interaction which, in its turn, helps to develop their creative thinking;

• creates an atmosphere of trust and sincerity at the lesson.

The above mentioned project was carried out by the 9th grade learners. As the level of their speech competence is enough high, we use the free form of making up dialogues. It is necessary that the following skills and abilities of the learners should be developed:

  ability to ask questions of different types;

  • answering the questions logically, consistently and clearly;
  •  using different responding remarks in the communication process, showing interest, attention and active participation in the conversation;
  • using various ways of speech functions, such as expressing consent or disagreement, doubt, request, etc.

In this way, the learners develop their communicative skills: listening to the interlocutor, entering into communication and maintaining it.

In modern society an educated person is in demand, who is able to think creatively, express his/her opinion clearly, stand on his/her own point of view. Such a person is well developed through dialogue-based lessons.




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