BOOK REVIEWS

Conversation Strategies
Authors: David Kehe and Peggy Dustin Kehe
Book reviews published in the Canadian Modern Language Review / La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes
Publisher: Pro lingua Associates , 1994
Reviewed by: Viviane Edwards

This book contains a collection of activities for pair/small group conversation practice. It is designed for use with a wide range of intermediate level students of English as a second or foreign language but could easily be adapted to any second language situation. The format of the activities puts the focus on the students, rather than on the teacher. At the same time the activities are designed to be non- threatening to even the most reserved students. They are also enjoyable for both students and teachers, and they are easy to implement. A special feature of these activities is that students will develop strategic conversation skills. These are skills that go along with linguistic and sociolinguistic skills (grammar, vocabulary and usage). Strategic skills help the speaker/listener keep a conversation going to its natural or desired conclusion. These skills include beginning a conversation, clarifying something, interrupting someone, rephrasing, correcting someone, eliciting information, soliciting attention, repairing a conversation, summarizing a conversation, escaping from a conversation and ending a conversation.

The format of the book is very simple. Each activity has three parts: a teacher's introduction, a student's introductory exercise and a pair or small group practice. Each activity is complete and does not depend on another activity. Topics covered are varied and range from the use of rejoiners to follow-ups, to echoes, to connectors etc.. This is a very practical guide written by practicing teachers and piloted in a number of different teaching situations.


"Conversation Strategies - Pair and Group Activities for Developing Communicative Competence"
Authors: David Kehe and Peggy Dustin Kehe
Publisher: Pro Lingua Associates 1994
Reviewed by: Joanne LeBlanc-Haley


This textbook is a collection of student-focused activities for pair/small group practice. Intended for students at the intermediate level, the activities are designed so that students may develop " strategic conversation skills". These skills assist students in becoming a "proficient participant in conversations".

The text addresses a very critical aspect of speaking. Conversation skills are important as they assist the participant in becoming accepted, in both formal and informal academic and social settings. The skills covered are; beginning a conversation, clarifying something, interrupting someone, rephrasing something, correcting someone, eliciting information, soliciting attention, repairing conversation, summarizing a conversation, escaping a conversation and ending a conversation.

The approach used for each of the twenty-four lessons has three parts: teacher introduction, a student introductory exercise and follow-up pair/group practices. It is suggested that Lesson # 1 be done first but after that the remaining lessons can be done in any order.

The teacher introductions for each of the lesson are found at the back of the book. My preference would be to include each of the teacher introductions with the student components and not separately. The information the teacher introductions contain, such as the aim of the lesson, would benefit the intermediate student.

Although the text contains some valuable activities, it is a dangerous resource as it is well organized, easy to use, neat and controlled - the very kind of text that lends itself to being used as the sole resource for teaching conversation skills.

 


 



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