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Speaking activity: "Agree on a Chinese Restaurant Order"

Objective/ product

Three or more participants in a group must negotiate differences to arrive at a dinner order acceptable to all. (This is necessary when dining the traditional "family style" at a Chinese restaurant, where all the dishes are shared.)

Followup: revisions to the order are attempted.

Materials needed

  • a menu or catalogue of possible foods for ordering
  • To ensure an adequate amount of negotiation, each student may be provided with a set of dietary preferences or restrictions to role-play: "You love shrimp but you can't stand fish. You are allergic to eggs." These restrictions may be designed in groups such that the restrictions will only allow certain dishes on the limited menu to be ordered.
  • Restrictions may also be imposed on the amount of money to be spent.

Procedures for traditional classroom

Student groups are seated in circles to carry out negotiations. One person may be designated to keep track of the order; alternatively, a student who is not part of the group may play a waitperson, keeping track of the order and summarizing it for the diners.

In a followup stage, one of the groups can be directed to summarize their order while the rest of the class notes it down. Students who are not in the group are invited to attempt to find a food that could substitute for one of the items in the original order, using the formula, "We're out of X. How about Y instead?" If no member of the original group objects, the challenging student is awarded a prize (applause, for example).

Adaptations for ITV

Group activities such as this in which the number of members in the group may be flexible are ideal for ITV adaptation, since various numbers of students at different sites may be joined up on program into a single group. If there are more than four in the group, turn-taking may be facilitated if participants are directed to identify themselves when speaking and to try their best not to interrupt.

 

Sample Clip

The clip shown here was taken after students in the UH ITV classroom had finished doing "Agree on a Chinese Restaurant Order" as a classroom activity and were being tested on the task and associated material. The testing strategy shown here is used during most unit tests in the UH ITV Chinese classrooms as a supplement to one-on-one interviews, which are less frequent, since they are difficult to schedule. In this testing model, the instructor or a native-speaking informant serves as informant, either in a role-play or in an interview. Students are directed to ask questions or otherwise add to the role-play -- each student must speak at least once -- and to listen to each other's questions as well as the answers that come from the informant. The information gained is then used to fill in a chart on the test paper or to emulate a real-world function based on that information -- for instance, to make a decision about a purchase. A point value may be assigned to each student's utterance based on accuracy.

Testing "Agree on a Chinese Restaurant Order." The teacher of a second-year class, visible in a small window, role-plays a server in a Chinese restaurant while students role-play a group of friends eating together. They must order one meat dish, one fish dish, a starch, a soup, and so forth, but some of them have particular likes and dislikes and so the order is changed several times, which provides a challenge and prompts students at two receive sites to leap in and ask for clarification.

 

 

1999 Stephen Fleming, NFLRC, University of Hawai‘i.All rights reserved.