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Pre-communicative Practice, Level 2

Level 2 of the pre-communicative practice covers drills where the relationship between language structures and their meanings are reinforced by situations that can occur in real life.

Take for example a tourist asking for directions in the street. In the classroom we can only simulate the situation, by using appropriate prompts: a map which indicates where they are standing and where various places are situated and a task to be achieved, such as successfully finding the 'Pie in the Sky' Restaurant. This activity could then be followed by another one where students need to order their meal, be served by a waiter/waitress, pay their bill and the list can be endless, but we'll concentrate on the first situation here. The dialogue could be structured as follows:

- "How do I get to the 'Pie in the Sky' Restaurant, please?"
- "Turn first left and go straight on for 50m."

- "Can you tell me the way to the 'Pie in the Sky' Restaurant, please?"
- "Yes. Turn left and go straight on for 50m."

Important points to keep in mind with regard to the pre-communicative practice stage:

1. It's important that at level 2 of the pre-communicative practice not only the teacher asks the questions and the students respond. They must also ask the questions, because in real life they will have to both initiate conversations as well as simply responding to questions.

2. Since everybody knows the information already, there is no real communication of a new message. The purpose of the activity is to enable the students to practice important elements of the language system and relate them to their meanings, so that these elements can readily be used to communicate messages later.

3. At this level we can 'personalise' the practice by talking about the students' own lives and experiences. The situations can be endless for 2 reasons:

  • anybody's life is an infinite source of situations, if we consider the real AND the imagined possibilities;
  • every situation can be expressed by using a variety of language structures, which makes life both more interesting, yet more complicated at the same time.

It is to this aspect that comments like 'but my teacher taught me this expression in primary school - I never heard your expression for this situation!' are referring to. Well, no... until now. We need to be open to the fact that language is a flexible, living means of communicating which needs to be used to the full if we want to have an interesting life. This is where reading a lot helps us find new expressions for the situations used in class.

Once you are comfortable with both levels of pre-communicative practice, you will then jump to the next level - communicative language practice, where you'll be faced with an added dimension: the use of language to communicate new information to the listener(s).

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