Common Core Standards: ELA
6. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Imagine this scene: A ninety-year-old woman shoots a burgler and is charged with murder in the first degree. This incident is picked up and publicized by the media, and the courtroom is packed during the trial. The television cameras are recording, the accused woman is weeping silently into a floral handkerchief, the lawyers are somber and nervous, and the other people in the courtroom are sitting with bated breath, waiting for the trial to begin. Then the judge sweeps in, saying, “All right, let’s get this party started!”
Wrong. So wrong.
In order to avoid faux pas like this, your students will have to learn early on that there is a time for laughter and jokes, and a time for seriousness and formality. Here are some exercises that you can use in your classroom to emphasize this:
1. Make two sets of notecards. On one set, list several short, common topics of conversation, like: “Ask how someone is feeling,” “Say that it’s raining outside,” and “Wish someone a happy birthday.” On the second set, list a number of people the students might talk with in their everyday lives, such as: “A teacher,” “Your mom,” “A group of small children,” “Your best friend.”
Shuffle the decks separately and have each student pick one card from each pile. Then, have the students say what they would say on that topic and to that person. For instance, if a student pulls the cards “Wish someone a happy anniversary” and “Your best friend,” the student might say, “Happy anniversary, you two! Hey, that’s awesome!” If the student chose “Your boss,” on the other hand, he or she might say, “Happy anniversary. I hope it’s great.”
The class can then discuss whether the student’s response was appropriate and the types of responses that would be appropriate or inappropriate in that situation. The students can also make their own cards in small groups or as a class.
2. Have students form pairs or small groups. In each group, give students the following list. Have students practice greeting one another, giving a gift, and saying goodbye the way they would in each of these situations. Then, bring the class back together and discuss how their use of words, structure, language, and gesture changed in each situation.
How Would You Speak If You:
- Were at a job interview?
- Had just arrived at your family’s holiday dinner?
- Were at the movie theater on a first date with your crush?
- Were at the movie theater with your best friend?
- Were talking to a small child you are babysitting?
- Were sitting on a bus next to someone you know, but don’t really like?
Quiz 1 QuestionsHere's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.
Quiz 2 QuestionsHere's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.
Questions 1-12 assume that you have just joined a traveling theater company.