Tag Archives: oral communication

The Dortmund Historical Corpus of Classroom English (DOHCCE)

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Justus Liebig University (JLU) Giessen, Germany

Dortmunder Corpus Titelblatt Scan
(S = student; L = teacher)

About a decade ago, my extremely influential academic teacher and esteemed mentor, the late Helmut Heuer (1932-2011), asked me to drop by his office at the University of Dortmund, on short notice, when I happened to be in town. I had just received my first professorship in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) at Karlsruhe University of Education at that time, after about ten years of working as a high school teacher in Dortmund, one of Germany’s largest cities. Since he had left me completely in the dark why he wanted to see me, I thought he was simply going to wish me good luck, and provide me with some further valuable advice, as he had done so often in previous years.

When I arrived in his office two weeks later, he immediately drew my attention to a pile of three old cardboard file folders, presented in a rather ceremonious fashion on the tiny table where he used to invite students to sit with him during his office hours. I must admit that the three folders did not look particularly interesting to me. They were stuffed to their limits and covered with dust. One of them had almost fallen apart. When he urged me to open them, I recognized that they were filled with English as a Foreign Language (EFL) lesson transcripts, written on a typewriter, dating back to the early 1970s, with hand-written remarks scribbled here and there. The paper on which the approximately forty transcripts were written had turned yellow with age so that some parts were difficult to read.

“It may not be obvious, but this is a treasure trove for research on learning and teaching English as a foreign language,” I remember him saying to me in German, referring to the pile as the unpublished ‘Dortmund Corpus of Classroom English’. “I would very much like you to have it”, he continued, adding that “there might be a time when you wish to take a closer look at it”. In the following conversation, he gave me some very general information about this apparently dated collection of classroom data, emphasizing that all lessons had been conducted in comprehensive schools (i.e. in non-selective lower secondary schools for children of all backgrounds and abilities) in the federal (West-) German state of North Rhein-Westphalia between 1971 and 1974.

Since our meeting was crammed between two of his classes, we did not have sufficient time to talk about the origins and the genesis of the corpus material in all the necessary details. So I sincerely thanked him and took the material with me to Karlsruhe. Mainly, perhaps, because this was my first professorship and everything was excitingly new and challenging, I somehow lost sight of the folders, keeping them stashed away in a safe place in my office.

In March 2011, I was appointed Professor of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) at Justus-Liebig-University (JLU) Giessen. While thinking about ways to enhance evidence-based or data-driven research in the field of foreign/second language education in the widest sense, I came across Olaf Jäkel’s work at the University of Flensburg. As a linguist interested in how English as a Foreign Language is actually taught in classrooms in Germany nowadays, he had just published the Flensburg English Classroom Corpus (FLECC) (see also Jäkel 2010) which comprises a total of 39 transcripts of English lessons given by pre-service student teachers in primary and lower secondary schools in Northern Germany, most of them in parts of the federal German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

This reminded me of the ‘treasure trove’ I was still sitting on, the unpublished lesson transcripts Helmut Heuer had so generously passed on to me so many years ago. I contacted Olaf Jäkel on this and was pleased to hear his positive and encouraging feedback to my initial thoughts about creating a digital version of the old documents. We agreed that making this historical collection of classroom data available to the international research community in a computer-readable format, publishing it as downloadable open access material on the Internet as well as a print-on-demand corpus, would be of considerable interest and value to anyone interested in or involved in researching authentic foreign or second language classroom interaction and discourse world-wide, both from a diachronic and synchronic perspective. I am grateful to him for co-funding the digitization of the classroom data, and for his generous support with publishing the book online and in print.

Scanning the original corpus material and converting the images into more easily searchable text turned out to be no longer possible. So the entire corpus material (more than 400 pages) had to be retyped again manually.

Reconstructing the setting in which the initial ‘Dortmund Corpus of Classroom English’ was assembled turned out to be both fascinating and difficult. Based on evidence from a variety of sources, including personal correspondence with participants directly or indirectly involved in the project, it soon became clear that the corpus project was launched in turbulent times, i.e. in the context of the ubiquitous school and education reform controversy which had been raging in former West Germany since the mid-1960s. At the heart of the controversy lay the polarizing issue of what constitutes equality of opportunity and effectiveness in education. Fierce political battles and scholarly conflicts over the crucial need to restructure the school and education system of the time eventually led to a large-scale, funded experiment with comprehensive schools which has come to be known as the (West) German Gesamtschulversuch. The complex process of setting up and implementing the first experimental comprehensive schools was accompanied with extended research (Wissenschaftliche Begleitung). The pre-digital corpus project represents a remarkable example of such accompanying research.

There is a sizable body of literature available (in German) today documenting and examining the large-scale school experiment which began in 1968 and ended in 1982. However, much of the published material focuses on general issues related to the definition and interpretation of comprehensiveness in secondary school education, the general and specific structure, aims, and objectives of comprehensive schooling, the link between structural and curricular innovations and reforms, the development and implementation of adequate curricula and instructional designs, and the efficiency and effectiveness of the newly established comprehensive schools as compared with traditional German secondary schools. Comparably little has been published to date illustrating and examining how (subject matter-) learning was actually organized and promoted in those new experimental schools, as for instance in the EFL classroom.

The DOHCCE (Kurtz 2013) contains a total of 36 annotated transcripts of English as a Foreign Language lessons conducted in German comprehensive schools prior to the communicative turn. Currently in print, it will be available in fall, both as open access data on the Flensburg University server and as a book on demand, published by Flensburg University Press. More on this in a few weeks. Please stay tuned.

Jäkel, Olaf (2010). The Flensburg English Classroom Corpus (FLECC). Sammlung authentischer Unterrichtsgespräche aus dem aktuellen Englischunterricht auf verschiedenen Stufen an Grund-, Haupt-, Real- und Gesamtschulen Norddeutschlands. Flensburg: Flensburg University Press.


A Paradigm Shift in Language Teaching – at long last!

by Wolfgang Butzkamm, Aachen University (RWTH), Germany

Goodbye Berlitz, goodbye Helen Doron, goodbye Rosetta Stone…
The fact that small children grow into their native language without the help of another one, has inspired countless reformers. Charles Berlitz proclaimed himself the inventor of the direct method (which he wasn’t), and in his schools any use of the learners’ native language was taboo. In our times Helen Doron schools similarly claim to be using „the only internationally acclaimed early English learning method that allows children to absorb English in exactly the same way they learn their mother tongue”, i.e. without translation of any kind. The central idea, the exclusion of the children’s own language, has also been adopted by many public school systems and official guidelines for teachers, although in a less strict and dogmatic manner. A methodological monolingualism became the mainstream philosophy, as evidenced in many textbooks. The use of the mother tongue was invariably cautioned against, generally downplayed and rarely recommended. English-only became almost a badge of honour.

However, commercial self-instructional courses today are curiously divided. There are computer courses which make “no translation” their central selling proposition (e.g. Rosetta Stone: “It essentially means that you learn German in German, without translations – like you picked up your mother tongue”), and there are others which make regular and systematic use of their learners’ native language in various ways (Assimil; Birkenbihl; Michel Thomas…), making the very opposite their central selling proposition.

For more than a century this most vexing issue has been discussed and has often generated more heat than light, and it has certainly generated an immense literature by now.  Although in many countries monolingual teaching with some modifications carried the day, a number of researchers continued to radically question the monolingual assumption. Interestingly, some of them started out as „monolingual“ practitioners (the students’ native language being only a last resort), but changed their minds over time. This is also my own case. As early as 1976 I pressed for a „paradigm shift“, building on C.J. Dodson’s Bilingual Method, a book which opened my eyes when I was a young teacher of modern languages. On reading Dodson I could put the new bilingual techniques immediately into practice, and thus came to understand them by experimenting and observing their effects in the classroom (for more on this, please click here).

In many ways what is now happening fits Thomas Kuhn’s description of a paradigm shift (in The structure of scientific revolutions), a significant change away from the monolingual doctrine in favour of a modern bilingual approach. Over the years, more and more researchers have challenged the settled view of their predecessors, and it seems that a paradigm shift is just around the corner:

„Die Zeit ist reif für eine neue Synthese … die bilinguale Revolution findet statt.“ [„The time is ripe for a new synthesis…the bilingual revolution is taking place“] (W. Butzkamm, Lust zum Lehren, Lust zum Lernen, 12004, p. 2)

“Making the mother tongue the corner stone in the architecture of FLT is a true paradigm shift.” (W. Butzkamm & J. A. W. Caldwell, The bilingual reform. A paradigm shift in foreign language teaching, p. 15)

“We live in interesting times: having lived through one paradigm shift, I now have the feeling this book marks the start of another.” A. Maley, Review of Translation in Language Teaching: an argument for reassessment by G. Cook. ELT Journal 65.2, 192–193.

„If their proposals are implemented, it will be a true paradigm shift.“  P. Scheffler, Review of The bilingual reform. A paradigm shift in foreign language teaching by W. Butzkamm  &  J. A. W. Caldwell.  ELT Journal 66/1, 2012, p. 119).

In the influential journal  Language Teaching  – (listed both in  the Arts & Humanities Citation Index and in the Social Sciences Citation Index) authors G. Hall & G. Cook come to the conclusion: „The way is open for a major paradigm shift in language teaching and learning“ (state-of- the-art article „Own language use in language teaching and learning“ , in Language Teaching, 45/2012, pp 271-308). With this authoritative review one can safely say that a century old tenet has been overturned. A dogma has been toppled.

According to Butzkamm & Caldwell the learners’ native language is ‘the greatest pedagogical resource’ that they bring to foreign language learning, as it ‘lays the foundations for all other languages we might want to learn’. While language teaching in many countries had to be officially monolingual with small concessions, it is now accepted that language learning is, and has always been, a fundamentally bilingual endeavour, as modern brain research has shown. Thus it is not just a more flexible and less rigid attitude towards own-language use which is advocated today, but the well-targeted, systematic exploitation of the diagnostic potential of learners’ own language(s), however with the foreign language still being the working language of the classroom. What is now needed is the knowledge and dissemination of those highly effective techniques in which the L1 is essential – techniques which are yet to filter into mainstream pedagogy.

Caution: A sophisticated bilingual approach does not give licence for the lax, unthinking or indifferent use of L1.  It is a highly purposeful, focused tool to promote L2 learning and communicative use in the classroom. We must at long last resolve the apparent paradox that with systematic mother tongue support an authentic foreign language classroom atmosphere can be created much more easily than in classes with a mother tongue taboo.

Getting Students to Stick to the Target Language in an EFL Lesson

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

In this interesting and thought-provoking video, Herbert Puchta addresses the important issue of monolingual communicative language teaching in (secondary school) foreign language classrooms.  As is well-known, many foreign language learners tend to switch to their mother tongue ‘whenever’ (this is an overgeneralization, of course) they are asked to work in pairs or in groups, especially when they are engaged in more demanding, increasingly self-regulated communicative activities.  In consequence, very often only the resulting products are presented in the target language in class (often by those students who are more confident – and competent – in the specific target language). This is a huge problem in German EFL classrooms, and perhaps, in foreign language classrooms around the world.

Herbert Puchta suggests that EFL  teachers should think about offering some additional incentives,, e.g. by appealing to the competitive spirit of teenage learners, and, more generally, by creating a classroom atmosphere that is not (or at least less) detrimental to the students’ willingness to speak English. This is plausible,  but in order to get down to the core of the problem (i.e. code-switching), teachers need to think more deeply about the basic design of the activities and tasks they wish to use in the EFL / foreign language classroom in the first place.

Tasks and activities which allow (or even force!) learners to resort to the mother tongue are questionable, mainly because they are not sufficiently tuned to the learners’  target language level of productive competence. Embedding competetive, game-like elements may help, but this is just one way of circumventing the problem.

Theoretically, this largely corresponds with Krashen’s I+ 1 , but O + 1 (O = output; with the improvised +1) is equally important in foreign language education.

On this blog, you can find an activity that softly ‘pushes’ EFL learners to speak English, to use their target language resources spontaneously, i.e. the improvisation ‘Bus Stop’. Try it out and let me know how it worked for you and your learners.

Error Correction in Speaking – The Fun Way

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

In the following video, Herbert Puchta looks at a fun way of correcting one of the most fequently occuring errors in German EFL classrooms: the missing third person singular -s in the simple present tense (as in: he *want more juice).

German teachers of English as a foreign language are regularly confronted with learners’ utterances like ”*He go to  school”‘, etc. – although the German 3rd person requires a suffigated form as well: ”Er geht in die Schule”. In fact, the German inflectional system for the simple present tense is far more complex than the English, which only requires a suffix -s in the third person singular. To cope with this problem, German teachers very often use a ‘slogan’ that makes the underlying SV-agreement explicit: ”He, she, it, dass -s muss mit.” (He, she, it, the -s must fit.) (roughly translated). But this is not really effective. Student learn the slogan by heart, but continue to produce the error. I was wondering how this can be explained (failure in morph rule-learning; or in rote memory / mental lexicon; or in teaching practices; or …?). Any ideas and suggestions?

Here are some expert views on this (via The Linguist List / the  world’s largest online linguistic ressource):


“I suppose perhaps it is natural that when you come to English from a more highly conjugated language like German, the overall impression is ”forget about verb endings”, and one goes too far and forgets even what English has got – a case of overgeneralizing, which is a very usual kind of learning error.”

Prof. G.R. Sampson MA PhD MBCS (Professor of Natural Language Computing; School of Cognitive & Computing Sciences; University of Sussex)


“I dont know what kind of a fancy Education College label one might want to hang on this but there is no alternative in learning inflectional morphemes of another – or of one’s own for that matter – language other than practice. One can understand it systematically and intellectually but that’s like understanding how a piano works. It doesn’t mean you can play Poulenc. – For English there is the added fact that it is only in the third person singular that the agreement-tense suffix occurs. It’s  he/she/it write-s versus everybody else write. Moreover, it probably doesn’t help that in nouns, an -s suffix is plural rather than singular.

Joseph F Foster (Associate Professor of Anthropology &Director of Undergraduate Studies; University of Cincinnati, Ohio)


“The problem for learners of English, native or not, is that, as you point out, the only inflection that occurs in the present tense for most English verbs is the one for the 3rd person singular. It turns out that this language situation is actually more complex for the learner than one in which all persons and number have a unique inflection. Researchers investigating language acquisition have found that for languages in which inflections always appear, native-speaking children make no errors, but for a language such as English, learning the one exception to the ”no inflection” rule turns out to be difficult from a cognitive linguistic perspective. I am certain that the same problem exists for people learning English as a second or foreign language.

Marilyn N. Silva (Professor/Chair; Department of English; California State University, Hayward).

Improvisation and Creativity in EFL Classroom Discourse

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

Today I finished reading From Corpus to Classroom. Language Use and Language Teaching (O’Keefe, McCarthy & Carter 2007). In my view, this is a well-written and in many ways thought-provoking book that provides a wide-ranging (largely introductory) overview of corpus-based research and its implications for foreign language learning and teaching. Since I am particularly interested in the role of improvisation and creativity in EFL classroom discourse (see Kurtz (2001) as well as the TEFLSPEAK-G series of posts on this blog), I found the following passage most interesting:

“There is a long way to go in understanding creativity in the spoken language and in exploring the applications to the classroom of such understandings, but the first steps have been taken in recognising that it has been generally underplayed within the language teaching classroom. It is something that we need to work on to bring the best out of us as learners, teachers and collaborators in the language classroom. It is a fundamental aspect of a more humanistic approach to language teaching. And it is the kind of evidence supplied by corpora of spoken language that enable these first steps to be taken.” (O’Keefe, McCarthy & Carter 2007: 197).

However, I did not find any references to research findings not published in English in this book. The more I read, the more I  became aware (once again) of the dominance of the English language in academic communication – which raises a number of fundamental questions (see, for instance, Gnutzmann 2006).


Gnutzmann, Claus (2006). Fighting or fostering the dominance of English in academic communication?” Fachsprache, 2006 (28), 195-207.

Kurtz, Jürgen (2001). Improvisierendes Sprechen im Fremdsprachenunterricht. Eine Untersuchung zur Entwicklung spontansprachlicher Handlungskompetenz in der Zielsprache. Tübingen: Narr.

O’Keefe, Anne; McCarthy, Michael & Carter, Ronald (2007). From Corpus to Classroom. Language Use and Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Form-focused and Message-oriented Communication in Secondary School EFL Classrooms

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

In the International Handbook of English Language Teaching (Cummins & Davison 2007), Nina Spada (2007: 283) states that “there is an emerging concensus in the classroom research literature that the inclusion of form-focused instruction is needed within exclusively and primarily meaning-based approaches to CLT if learners are to develop higher levels of knowledge and performance in the target language. This has been demonstrated in descriptive, experimental, and quasi-experimental studies with adult, adolescent, and child learners in different second/foreign language contexts.”

This raises a number of fundamental questions concerning the current status of EFL classroom interaction and, more specifically, the optimal mix of form-focused and message-oriented instruction in everyday secondary school EFL practice.

Up to now, there is very little empirical evidence that frontline educators in secondary schools, for instance in Germany, actually orchestrate classroom interaction in accordance with “exclusively and primarily meaning-based approaches to CLT”. On the contrary, the overall focus of instruction behind classroom doors is still very often on target language form or forms, i.e. on the weak, rather than on the strong version of the communicative approach (see Howatt 1984).

This is what the current DESI-study (German-English-Student-Assessment-International), a large-scale assessment study (n = 11,000) commissioned by the German federal board of education (including a classroom video-study), designed and implemented by an interdisciplinary consortium of applied linguists and educational researchers indicates (for a summary, see the official German DESI homepage and the corresponding Powerpoint-Presentation in English created by Günter Nold, University of Dortmund, Germany.

EFL classroom interaction in everyday practice in Germany is often far from being appropriate to stimulate and scaffold lively, meaningful and creative interaction (especially self-regulated peer-to-peer communication in English) and to systematically stretch learners’ participatory abilities in the target language, primarily because message-oriented classroom discourse is mapped onto the traditional interactional architecture of form-focused and predominantly accuracy-oriented language practice (i.e. IRF: teacher initiation, student response, teacher feedback, mainly focused on immediate error-correction).

The “procedural infrastucture of talk-in-interaction” (Schegloff 1992: 1299) which has emerged in classroom practice over many years is suggestive of a form-oriented communicative cocoon spun by teachers to protect learners from the natural complexity and unpredictability that is typical of many communicative encounters outside the classroom. In consequence, there is very little room for spontaneous, less regulated (or scripted) and less predictable communicative exchanges which are necessary to induce a communicative metamorphosis among learners – from peripheral and dependent to increasingly more central and autonomous participants. In my view, this needs to be considered more thorougly when proposing the inclusion of form-focused instruction in secondary school EFL classrooms.

Howatt, Anthony P. R. (1984). A History of English Language Teaching. Ox­ford: Oxford Uni­versity Press.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. (1992). “Repair after next turn: The last structurally provided defense of intersubjectivity in conversation.” American Journal of Sociology, 5, 1295-1345.

Spada, Nina (2007), “Communicative Language Teaching: Current Status and Future Prospects”, in: Cummins, Jim & Davison, Chris (Eds.). International Handbook of English Language Teaching. Part 1. New York: Springer: 271-288.

TEFLSPEAK-G and the Idea of Encouraging Improvised Speech in the EFL Classroom (10)

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

As described in the preceding posts, task-based improvisational enactments consist of scripted and unscripted communicative sequences: a) an opening part which functions as a scripted lead-in intended to ‘break the ice’ and to reduce speaking inhibitions, b) an unscripted middle part leaving enough space for a wide range of spontaneous ideas and interpretations, topics and improvised peer-to-peer exchanges, and c) a scripted final-part with which the improvised dialogue can be brought to an end once the participants feel that they cannot or do not want to go any further (in order to avoid embarrassment and speaking anxiety resulting from possible communicative breakdowns; this is the so-called ‘communicative emergency exit’ which is usually missing in traditional role-plays and simulations).

Each enactment is followed by teacher-guided or teacher-supported whole-class reflection. Here, the focus is not primarily on communicative problems and linguistic deficits, but on communicative success and on expanding the learners’ participatory repertoire in the target language. Explicit error correction is, of course, not neglected, but it is integrated in a way that is not threatening to the learners’ willingness to speak English. This then serves as a basis for subsequent enactments becoming increasingly more elaborate and flexible in terms of spontaneous target language use, as a number of classroom studies and scientific publications show (see, for instance, Kurtz 2001; Siebold 2004a (with DVD-/ROM video sequences), 2004b, 2006; Rossa 2007). From the teacher’s perspective, parts a) and c), i.e. the scripted communicative frame, can be and should be prepared in advance, whereas part b), the improvisational part in the middle, is unpredictable and emerges on the spot in the classroom. It is this part which requires teachers to distance themselves from what Sawyer has appositely referred to as educational “script-think” (2001: 36).

In this way, improvisation tasks seek to bring together two basic facets of authentic, natural, everyday communication in the EFL classroom: a) the predictability of socio-communicative scripts and behavioral patterns (unwritten scripts, socio-functional routines or event schemata) and b), the unpredictability of spontaneous ideas and topical shifts within a given socio-communicative framework.

All in all, improvisations are designed to bridge the (in some respects) artificial gap between acquisition and learning, direct and indirect, implicit and explicit foreign language instruction in secondary school EFL environments by providing a situated communicative infrastructure for classroom talk-in-interaction that is flexible enough to allow for systematic teacher-led instruction, mediation or support (scaffolding) as well as for more self-regulated, student-centered discovery learning, experimental target language use and, ultimately, the gradual emergence of communicative competence and performance in action-oriented, meaningful and challenging scenarios (see my previous post on Handlungsorientierung, i.e. on action-based / action-oriented foreign language learning and teaching on this blog).

For further illustration, here is another transcript of an improvisational enactment (9th grade learners of English at a secondary comprehensive school in Germany). Learners are sitting in a circle. (T = teacher; L = learner).

T: Ok, let me throw the dice now. Oops, that was an accident .. em .. I can’t see it from here. It’s behind that chair now. Yvonne .. Can you help? Can you see it?
L13: Yes .. em .. it’s fifteen.
T: Right .. thank you .. Who has got fifteen? Mario? Good .. Let’s give Mario a nice round of applause… Come on everybody… Clap your hands! … Applause … Yvonne, why don’t you throw the dice now?
L13: Me? Do I really have to, Herr Schneider?
T: Where’s the problem? Come on … go ahead.
L13: OK. Six.
T: Who has got six? Dennis? Fine, now we can begin.
Ls: … Applause
T: Oh yes. Sorry … right .. let’s .. em… let’s clap our hands for Dennis and .. em .. Mario. Mario and Dennis … Are you ready? .. OK, quiet please … go ahead.
L6: Em … Just a moment please. We must find out who begins first. .. 15 seconds. We are ready .. we meet us in a youth club, OK?
T: OK you two .. so you’re in a youth club now … go ahead. And the others .. listen please!

Scripted part of the exchange, the lead-in (on OHT):
L15: “Hi [Dennis]!”
L6: “[Mario!] What a surprise! I didn’t expect to see you here today.”
L15: “Well, after last night I just had to come.”
L6: “Why?”

Unscripted, improvised, spontaneously created, and as such unpredictable part of the exchange:
L15: Well I don’t know .. em .. how I can tell you this .. em .. Meike was in the ‘Sound Garden’ (a local disco) yesterday.
L6: Meike?
L15: Yes, Meike .. you remember? Your girl-friend.
L6: Em .. But I don’t have a girl-friend.
L15: Never mind, now you have one and her name is Meike.
L6: OK OK .. 5 seconds.. Meike .. em .. my new girl-friend. .. 10 seconds… alone. Em … Was she alone in the ‘Sound Garden’?
L15: At first.
L6: And later?
L15: Later she wasn’t alone. (Outburst of laughter in class).
L6: Yes … I understand .. em .. but what did you saw? What was she doing? Tell me.
L15: Em .. well .. em .. I saw her .. em .. with Christian .. em .. and he kissed her.
L6: HE? (pointing at the ‘real’ Christian in the classroom)
L15: Yes … he.
L6: So YOU kiss MY girl-friend? (addressing Christian to include him in the improvisation)
L3: No, it wasn’t me, wirklich nicht [German] (honestly).

Scripted / ‘emergency’ exit (on OHT):
L15: “Well .. I can see you want to be left alone. I think I better go now.”
L6: “OK .. thanks for letting me know.”
L15: “See you then .. [take care].”
L6: “Bye.”
Ls: …. Applause

Follow-up / classroom discussion:
T: Now before we listen to Mario and Dennis again… before we listen .. em .. to the cassette .. let me first ask you what you think about their .. em .. conversation .. 3 seconds .. Let’s collect … yes … let’s collect your first impressions .. 10 seconds .. Yes, Simone?
L1: I think it was very funny.
T: Oh really? Can you say why?
L1: Because Dennis play so cool .. em .. when he was angry about Christian .. em .. after Christian have kissed his girl-friend Meike.
T: Mmh .. OK.. what about the others? What do YOU think of the conversation?
L13: Dennis was good but Mario not.
T: Mario wasn’t? Why not?
L13: Because Mario is the best friend of Dennis .. em .. so he .. em .. I think he… em .. he must not tell Dennis about Christian and Meike.
T: You mean he shouldn’t have told him?
L13: Yes .. it’s not fair. He is not a reporter.
Ls: … mumbling …
T: OK .. calm down please. We can’t go on if you all speak at the same time. Isabell .. you wanted to say something?
L7: Hey, hör doch mal auf [German] (stop that) Tim. I want to say something!
T: Tim! Come on! Stop teasing her!
L7: I think Mario and Dennis are good friends .. and good friends have no .. äh .. Geheimnisse [German]?
T: Secrets. (writes it on the board).
L7: Yes .. and Mario wouldn’t be .. ehrlich [German]?
T: Honest.
L7: Mario… he .. he wouldn’t be .. What was the word?
T: Honest. (writes it on the board)
L7: He wouldn’t be honest if he doesn’t tell his best friend.
T: So you think that friends should always be honest to each other?
L7: Yes.
T: Mmh .. in Isa’s opinion honesty … Ehrlichkeit .. honesty (writes it on the board) is very important .. you should always be honest to your friends .. do you all agree? .. No? … 3 seconds … Who doesn’t?

This was followed by a brief ‘focus on form‘-sequence which culminated in a contextualized target language exercise, based on L7: He wouldn’t be honest if he doesn’t tell his best friend. After that, a new improvisation sequence was initiated.

Kurtz, Jürgen (2001). Improvisierendes Sprechen im Fremdsprachenunterricht. Tübingen: Narr.

Rossa, Henning (2007). Improvisationen als interaktive Lernarrangements: Anwendung eines Konzepts zur Förderung spontansprachlicher Handlungskompetenz in der Zielsprache Englisch dargestellt auf der Grundlage eigener Unterrichtserfahrungen in einem Grundkurs der Jahrgangsstufe 11 des Gymnasiums. (2. Staatsarbeit). Available online, click to read here

Sawyer, R. Keith (2001). Creating Conversations. Improvisation in Everyday Discourse. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 2001.

Siebold, Jörg (Hrsg.) (2004a). Let’s Talk: Lehrtechniken. Vom gebundenen zum freien Sprechen. Berlin: Cornelsen. [mit DVD-Videodokumentation].

Siebold, Jörg (2004b), “Interaktion und Sprachproduktion in improvisierten Schülergesprächen.” In: Deringer, Ludwig (Hrsg.). Innovative Fremdsprachendidaktik. Kolloquium zu Ehren von Wolfgang Butzkamm. Aachen British and American Studies. Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 149-166.

Siebold, Jörg (2006), “Unter der Lupe: Improvisierte Gespräche in einer 6. Realschulklasse.” In: Praxis Fremdsprachenunterricht, 4, 27-32.

More to come. Stay tuned.