When you think of the word “script,” you might think of words spoken in a play or movie. Or, if you are a Speech Pathologist familiar with autism, you might think of “scripting,” when a student with autism recites lines from movies, books, or video games. In this blog piece, I use the term conversation scripts to refer to written scripts using speech bubbles that describe a conversational exchange among two or more people, such as the one pictured below that shows two students talking about a recent test. These can be useful tools in teaching conversation skills!
Activities using conversation scripts can be stepping-stones to spontaneous conversational exchanges, and useful precursor activities to real practice of conversation skills.
Why use conversation scripts in social language therapy?
- Conversation skills can be abstract and nuanced skills for our students. Viewing and analyzing a conversation script can bring this abstract skill down to a visual, understandable and concrete level. Since conversations often occur spontaneously in the everyday lives of our students, it can be helpful to have the process slowed down for them by viewing the real language that is exchanged between people in a conversation.
- Conversation scripts are great tools for our visual learners! Students with reduced auditory skills find it helpful to see conversations written out in speech bubbles. This is a great way to turn auditory and spoken skills into a visual task for our visual learners.
- It’s a teaching tool, a method of providing direct instruction on conversational skills. Providing time to analyze and dissect what was good and not so good in a conversation is a great teaching step to conduct before you actually practice conversations.
- Conversation scripts can be easily modified and personalized to the needs of your students. Do you have a student that monopolizes conversations, never giving their listeners a chance to contribute? Have them analyze a similar script. (In my conversation chaos product, I have just such a conversation and accompanying activity).
Here’s how I use conversation scripts:
- I carefully choose (or write) the conversation script and tailor the content to the needs of my students. Choosing the right fit materials is an important part of the process.
- I have my student(s) role play the conversation with me or with another student. For struggling readers or students with slower processing skills, a second read-through might be necessary.
- Then, we analyze it. What was good about this conversation? What was not so good? Was there interrupting? Did everyone stay on topic? What was the perspective of each person in the conversation? How did each person feel? We might also count the number of words spoken by each party in the conversation to determine if it there was a relatively equal number of conversational turns and spoken words. In my products, I have worksheets that help the student analyze each conversation but you can also verbally guide them through it.
- Have students determine what parts of the conversation need to be fixed and then they can rewrite it.
- Last, have students role play the “fixed” conversation and decide if they want to make any finishing touches! You might want to videotape the first and “fixed” conversation role plays and have students watch and compare them. Teaching middle schoolers? Have them use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the “before” and “after” conversations.
Here are some of my products that use conversation scripts:
In my conversation scripts packet, I include a conversation that is flawed in some way. Students then analyze it for flaws using an accompanying worksheet and then they can “fix” the flaws by rewriting the conversation!
Check out the examples below. In the first script, “Jordy” monopolizes a conversation by talking about his new pet The second script is the “fixed” conversation!
Spend some time analyzing, dissecting and then, rewriting conversation scripts before you practice them! It might be just the intervention that your student needs to progress in their conversation skills!!