Extended speaking activities, where we try to speak for a longer period of time, are greatly beneficial for our fluency in English. In this respect, telling anecdotes based on personal stories (memories, people we know, accidents) can give us the perfect excuse to talk extensively.
However, if we want to develop our oral skills by telling anecdotes there are some strategies we must bear in mind:
- Choose a topic that interests you and on which you really have something to say.
- Allow some preparation time to collect your thoughts, ideas and the specific language you may need. To this end, having some leading questions may prove extremely beneficial.
- Try to follow a ‘model’ you have listened to before.
- Repeat the same anecdote with different people regularly.
Anecdotes became very popular as a class activity with the textbook series Inside Out. In their new edition, the publishers, MacMillan, have provided some anecdote models which students can watch on their website.
Today I have chosen the anecdote about a film you have enjoyed. First, listen to Leila talk about The Shawshank Redemption ("Cadena perpetua") and check your comprehension with the questions below.
Then prepare a similar three-four minute anecdote by answering these questions about a film you have enjoyed:
a) What’s the title of the film?
b) When and where did you see it?
c) Who’s in it?
d) Who directed it?
e) What is it based on?
f) What type of film is it?
g) What’s the main story?
h) What do you particularly like about it?
i) What was the soundtrack like?
j) What kind of ending does it have?
k) Would you recommend this film?
In forthcoming posts we’ll be publishing similar anecdote activities based on the Macmillan videos.
1 When did the film come out?
2 How many times has Leila seen it?
3 Who are the main actors?
4 What is it based on?
5 What type of film is it?
6 What’s the story in the film?
7 What’s the main topic in the film?
8 What does she like about the film?
9 Is the ending positive or negative?
10 Does she recommend seeing the film?
1 1994 2 Lots of times 3 Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins 4 A short story by Stephen King 5 A prison drama 6 The protagonist goes to prison for life for a murder he hasn’t committed 7 The friendships the protagonist develops while in prison 8 The acting, the script, the emotional journey she feels, the music (which pulls at the heartstrings) 9 Positive, ‘the film is uplifting 10 Absolutely, the film takes you on an emotional rollercoaster