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2.4. Simple activity 4: Role cards


For this you need a partner, or other helpful person, in addition to the native speaker friend with whom you are going to be practicing the language. If you are a solo language learner, you can adapt it. In the form we do this one of the learners writes on two cards. One card is then given to the native speaker, and one to the other language learners. A simple example might go like this:

Figure 4:

It is crucial that neither the native speaker nor the language leamer know what is on the other one's cards. Now here is another one which we used for Russian:

Figure 5:

The basic concept here we have taken from Strategic Interaction, by Robert J. DiPietro (1987, Cambridge University Press). The role cards have some shared information and some unshared or conflicting information that will add a problem that must be solved in your new language. Our ice cream example could be used quite early. At advanced stages, the role cards can be as complicated as you like.

At all stages, once you have finished the activity you can trade role cards to see what the other person was trying to achieve. Then discuss what both of you did (early on, this discussion can be partly in English or some other language that you and your native speaker friend know well.) It is helpful if you taped or videoed the activity. Then you can go over the tape or video with your native speaker friend and tell her "This is what I was trying to say at this spot. How might I have better expressed myself?" And she can explain things to you that she had said during the activity and you were unable to figure out, even with her best efforts to clarify for you. But the activity itself should be strictly carried out in the new language as a way of forcing you to talk.

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