Exploiting audioscripts 1

Published on 20th January, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

At the back of most modern coursebooks or in the teachers’ book is a resource which is often underused. Audioscripts have a unique role, especially if the listening is unscripted: they capture spoken language and they make real spoken language, which is usually ephemeral, ‘static’ and so ideal for examination in the language classroom or outside.

Embedded within audioscripts are natural features of conversation and interaction: fillers, repetition, responses, linkers, turn-taking devices, ellipsis, signalling devices and so on.

Audioscripts also often contain beautiful snippets of vocabulary in context, language that is otherwise overlooked. Over the last few days, I have heard and noted several expressions in natural conversations, eg needless to say (as in Needless to say, it’s raining yet again), then again (I love cabbage, but then again, I love all vegetables) or all in all (All in all, we had a great time). I also heard and recorded metaphors such as I’d jump at the chance or He’s walking on eggshells. I’ve also noted commonly used similes like (I) Slept like a log. Such expressions, the likes of which can be found fixed in time in audioscripts, are ripe for picking (or unpicking!).

Such language examples are rarely part of the language syllabus, probably because they are not easily placed into a lexical set or other category (although sometimes materials do provide random collections of metaphors or similes). This is a shame, as many of the lexical chunks are high frequency, and in my experience, learners find them attractive to learn.

Of course, audioscripts are also perfect for working on particular elements of pronunciation which may be relevant to your students. In next week’s tip we look at some basic, practical ways to exploit audioscripts.