Review: Keep Talking by Freiderike Klippel

Definitely a book worthy to be in the hand of every language teacher — Keep Talking by Freiderike Klippel. Klippel brings together a wonderful culmination of exercises and teaching techniques and ideas which should be practiced in many a classroom.
This book contains 123 activities all organized and categorized to be of maximum use for the teacher. For convenience, the activities are listed so a teacher can look up an activity which will fit her classroom needs specifically. There are three major headings for the activities: Questions and answers, Discussions and decisions, and Stories and scenes. Each activity is categorized by topic, language level, type of student organization needed whether from groups to individuals, amount of preparation involved, and time in minutes for the exercise to be completed.

Obviously, Klippel did not merely throw a bunch of activities together but he systematically organized them so teachers could use them most effectively. Although this book was not intended nor should it be used as a complete lesson plan for learning it is an excellent source for a teacher to supplement into a lesson plan to add excitement, encouragement, and action for the students.
One thing I really admire about this book is the author’s emphasis on communication. Language is communication and learning a language means learning to communicate. Klippel emphasizes this concept by promoting the need for achieving meaningful sharing of concepts and thoughts in a natural way in the classroom. This includes interaction between the teacher and students and students to other students in meaningful questions, conversations, interviews, games, etc.

In this book Klippel wrote, “Traditional textbook exercises –however necessary and useful they may be for pre-communicative grammar practice — do not as a rule forge a link between the learners and the foreign language in such a way that the learners identify with it.” (p.5)

Just as Klippel points out, I too feel that it is extremely necessary for a speaker to find an identity within there new language. A teacher can help instill this identity and a better understanding of a language by getting beyond the basic ideas of many texts and teaching the students to express their feelings

and personal ideas in the language. Granted, the basics must be taught but by using activities like many of the ones Klippel describes the students will be able to use the basics for something productive and something they identify with.
I would suggest, however, that these works best in a second language situation where the learner is submerged within the language most of the time. But these concepts can also be used in foreign language classrooms if the teacher uses them to the advantage of the students along with other meaningful classroom practices.
In my own experiences in learning a second language, I have found that most of the exercises are not very practical in communication. Yes, I have learned some skills in communicating in the L2 but I see the value in Klippel’s ideas because they teach how to express feelings, ideas, and more abstract thoughts than the basic information I have learned. I want my students to get beyond the learning of a language into the learning of communication via a different medium — the medium of a second language.