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TOOL 3: The Anatomy of Character Cards

Introduction

The difference between this activity and the previous one is that both students pretend to be someone else.

Just tell your students to imagine they have just met someone at a party, in an air plane, or in a bar for the first time. If both people are curious and interested they will start to find out about each other by asking questions. In the beginning the questions will usually be gen- eral. They might ask: “Nice day today.” or “Are you on holiday?” or “Where are you going?” or “Excuse me, may ask where you’re from?”.

Once the ice is broken, the questions can become more personal.

Starting a conversation

How to start a conversation successfully is easy to learn. Begin with a general topic, use please, sorry, or excuse me as the beginning of your opening sentence, and, above all, smile.

Starting a conversation is a delicate business. You need some courage and energy to overcome your initial fear. What is this fear of starting a conversation with a person you have never spoken to? You don’t know whether the beautiful woman next to you will react favourably or not. If you give in to your fear you will never know if you missed the chance of a lifetime or not.

On the other hand, if you do start a conversation with her she could ignore you and that could leave you defeated. Or perhaps she will gladly start talking with you, but after a few exchanges you find out that she is not your cup of tea. You want to stop, but she doesn’t.

If you are unlucky and she does ignore you, it might be because she just doesn’t feel like talking to anyone, including you. The other reason may be that you started the conversation on the wrong foot. Starting a conversation is a very delicate business, and even more so in a lan- guage you don’t know well.

Starting a Conversation is a technique your students can easily learn. There are only a few rules they have to keep in mind to be successful the next time they meet someone.

Rule one

Make sure that the topic they choose to start the conversation won’t upset the other person. Your students should talk about the weather, ask the time, or ask a question appropriate to whatever circumstances they are in. For example if someone is reading a book they could ask them, “Is it interesting?”

Rule two

They should use polite words to open their conversations. In English there are only few of them. Make sure they know how to use them! If they can’t, the initial impression they make might be difficult to change.

Rule three

Smile and speak softly and humbly. How you say something is as important as what you say.

Get your students to imagine how they would like to be spoken to for the first time. A few questions that should be avoided when starting a conversation are: “What’s your name?” or, “How old are you?” or, “Are you married?” or, “Could I practice my English with you?”

TOOLS Anatomy-03