Cassettes, Films, and the Partner System: Adding a New Dimension to the Conversation Class


  • John S. Irving

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      John Irving (Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles) is Associate Professor of German at California State University, Northridge


ABSTRACT  A one-unit conversational module of an elementary German class was used as a pilot for an innovative method which sought to increase the student's fluency and interest by deemphasizing the role of the teacher as drill-master and stressing student communication on a one-to-one basis. The class was divided into pairs of students who worked together as partners throughout the semester. Each set of partners received an audio cassette containing ‘personalized’ dialogues which focused on each partner's life and interests. The dialogues were learned at home and practiced in class. The roles of the partners in the dialogues were played by native speakers. Each cassette also contained a set of humorous variation drills based on the dialogues. For variety, there was visual reinforcement in the form of super-8 films, which depicted the situations recorded on cassette.