Activities for Practice: Dialogues

(excerpted and adapted from Tutoring ESL: A Handbook for Volunteers)

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Purpose: To practice listening and speaking skills and common conversational exchanges.

Materials: Braille Paper and braillewriter or bold-line paper and 20/20 pens.


Prepare a short, simple dialogue. Focus on a real situation and include only one or two new learning points.

Introduce and practice the new learning points before you begin the dialogue.

Present the dialogue while your student listens. Repeat it two or three times using gestures, puppets, or other objects to help indicate the roles.

Ask questions about the dialogue to check for understanding.

Read the dialogue line by line and have the student repeat the lines. Take part A and have your student take part B. You begin with the first line and have her respond. Encourage her to speak up and use appropriate gestures. Repeat this until she can respond easily.

Reverse roles and practice as needed.

Role play the dialogue with appropriate actions.

Follow up with a field trip where she can use the language in a real situation.

If you have more than one student, have them practice in pairs and perform for the class.

Sample dialogue

A: “Excuse me, do you have Tylenol?”

B: “Yes, what kind?”

A: “For babies.”

B: “Here it is.”

A: “Thank you.”

Suggestions for simple but useful dialogues

greetings, farewells (“Hello, how are you?”);

asking for street directions (“Excuse me, where is …?”);

introductions of people (“Tom, I want you to meet…”);

simple inquiries for information (“Excuse me, can you tell me…?”);

buying something (“How much is…?”);

classroom rituals (“How do you spell…?”);

making an appointment (“I need to see the doctor…”);

reporting an emergency (“I need help!”).


Have your student create her own dialogue about any given situation. Have her write it as well as perform it.

Have your student write the dialogue in braille on a sheet of braille paper or in large print on a sheet of bold-line paper, line by line. Then, ask her to read it back to you.

Have your student dictate the dialogue to you while you write it in braille or large print as you hear it. Let her read what you have written, and encourage her to also point out your errors.


Use natural language and keep the dialogue short and simple.

Include dialogues where the student is the initiator (see example).

Remember, it’s more difficult to begin the conversation than to respond. The customer or inquirer role is the most important for your student to learn.

From Tutoring ESL: A Handbook for Volunteers. Reproduced with permission from the publisher, Tacoma Community House Training Project, Tacoma, WA 98405.

Excerpted and adapted, with permission, by

Kaizen Program
for New English Learners with Visual Limitations
email: kaizen ( at )