Teaching the Ventriloquist’s Daughter (7)

We are delighted that our Teaching Consultant and Advisory Board member Dr Theresa Munford, of St Gregory’s School in Bath, has created a blog series for us on the practicalities of using an authentic text to create a Y10 scheme of work. The text she has chosen is The Ventriloquist’s Daughter by Lin Man-chiu, translated by Helen Wang.

Part 7. 6th July 2018

Lesson 7:  Speaking — acting a dialogue


Speaking practice is vital in language learning and the more interesting and engaging it is the better.  There are quite a few dialogues in TVD which are quite simple in terms of vocabulary and yet are dramatic and key to the plot.  One for example is the argument Liur’s father has with his own parents early on in the book where he tells them they can’t control his life.  That one would be full of the kind of vocabulary and sentiments that teenagers can relate too!  The topic of jobs and future plans is important on the GCSE syllabus so would gel well with that too.

For this lesson, however, I chose a much simpler, shorter dialogue for its dramatic content but also for its useful but not too difficult colloquialisms.

It is the beginning of Chapter 6 where Liur’s attempt to talk to her father is thwarted by the Carola, the doll.

It gives scope for students to work in twos or threes.


I had forgotten that this lesson was going to have native speaking Chinese students in the class with us. It turned out to be fortuitous!  This week we have a visiting groups of teenagers from Hangzhou and as most students studying Mandarin have been chosen as buddies, it turned out that we had 5 British students and 7 Chinese in the lesson.

One of our students gave a brief summary of the book in English to the Chinese students, then we went through the dialogue on the sheet to check for meanings.  The Chinese students engaged with this too.  Their level of English is very good, of course, but they enjoyed the discussion on translation choices and also learnt some slightly more colloquial equivalents to the Chinese phrases.

Then in groups of 3 they rehearsed and performed the sequence.  The Chinese students were very diligent in helping the English students with their pronunciation and the English students were able to draw out the Chinese students a little more, they were, naturally, quite shy.


Lesson 7

Dialogue sheet