Book Reviews

Do As I Say

Do As I Say is a photocopyable collection of three kinds of sequential activities: operations, procedures, and rituals. For simplicity, we will refer to them as sequences. The collection includes sequences that can be used with beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. They can be used with young and old learners. The sequences are typically done as pairwork.

What Are Operations, Procedures, and Rituals?
They all have one thing in common: a series of steps that follow a logical and/or naturally occurring sequence. They differ from each other in this way: An operation involves manipulating a piece of equipment, such as operating a tape recorder. A procedure is an activity that follows a predictable series of steps such as preparing a cup of instant coffee or a more complex activity such as making origami. A ritual is a highly predictable conversational dialogue.

Language accompanies each step in the sequence. Typically, the language is a short sentence, usually a command to do something or a cue to say something. The accurate use of language leads the learner through the process of successfully completing the sequence of steps. For example, Student A gives directions to Student B, and unless those directions are correct and correctly followed, Student B will not or should not successfully complete the sequence. Language accompanies action and/or thought. The meaning of the language is made clear by the action, and the action reinforces the language. The experience of completing a sequence establishes a basis for tactile and visual memory as well as linguistic memory. Furthermore, learners will experience many of these sequences in their normal daily life outside the classroom, and as they are involved in the sequence, they will also be involved with the language that accompanies the sequence. The result is an effective activity for language acquisition. They are learning by doing.

The operations and procedures are usually a set of instructions delivered in the form of commands. A ritual sequence is usually a set of verbal exchanges, such as a series of questions that elicit responses. The most useful format is called the "8 by 8," a series of eight utterances, each utterance not exceeding eight words. Learners are better able to remember and work with utterances of eight or fewer words. If the sequence has more than eight steps, the learner may have more difficulty remembering the steps. In some of the more complex sequences, the lines do exceed the eight-word, eight-line limit. These sequences should be used with more advanced learners.

The sequences are also an enjoyable way for learners to use the language actively in a purposeful way. They are fun. At the same time, the interaction between the learners is meaningful. A machine is used, or a task is accomplished. Thus, the sequences provide two important prerequisites to successful language acquisition- enjoyable and meaningful practice.

Because the sequences involve action, they are especially useful for the acquisition of the verb phrase - the heart of the language. The verbs used in the sequences are characteristically high-frequency action verbs, often irregular, for example, put, hold, open, close, give, and take. Sequences also feature phrasal verbs such as turn on, pick up, fill in and write down. With a few simple cues, a variety of tenses can be practiced. For example, at the end of each step, the question "What did you do?" will require the learner to use past tense forms.

Sequences also add variety to the usual classroom activities, and variety keeps the students on their toes. At the same time, the teacher can withdraw from direct participation in the sequence, allowing the learners to perform and practice by themselves, reducing teacher-talk and increasing learner-talk.

When to Use Sequences
Sequences are generally used as a supplement to a regular curriculum. For example, after working with irregular past tense forms, the teacher can select a sequence such as "Lighting a Candle" that uses several irregular verbs and requires the learners to ask "What did you do?" after each step. They can also be used on a regular basis to begin a class, to close it, or to break the tempo of the regular class work.
Sequences can be used at any level of English proficiency, although they are more effective at beginning and intermediate levels. There are six categories of sequences in this collection, and within each category, the sequences become progressively more challenging.
Reviewing and recycling material has always been an important part of any effective language learning program, and doing sequences is no exception. Therefore, "once is never enough" is a good rule to follow with these sequences. Frequently, a brief announcement such as "Let's mail a letter" is all that is needed to set a sequence in motion, and with each review, a different tense can be used, for example, "Before you do it, say what you are going to do."



Pro Lingua Associates ESL/EFL Book Publishers
74 Cotton Mill Hill, Suite A315, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301
Fax: 802 257 5117 Phone: 802 257 7779
Pro Lingua HOTLINE for information and orders: call Elise @ 800 366 4775

© 2005-2014 Pro Lingua Associates

Return to the Pro Lingua Home Page