One of the areas targeted in speech/language therapy is social language, which includes the ability to initiate and maintain a conversation.
It can be helpful to practice these skills with hypothetical examples before applying them to our own conversations in the moment. Analyzing examples of successful and unsuccessful conversations helps children to identify key components of a good conversation.
The following blog post was written by a teenage client with help from her speech-language pathologist. These hypothetical conversations between Disney characters were designed to demonstrate the social language concepts we were working on.
Have you ever had a conversation and suddenly had an awkward silence? This blog post will have some tips about how to keep a conversation going and some scenarios with some well-known Disney characters.
Scenario #1: Elsa and Anna
How NOT to have a conversation:
Anna: “I can’t wait for summer! I wonder if Olaf will melt. I wonder how Kristoff’s ice business will do. We should do a summer party. I wonder what our decorations are going to be. We could have a campfire and invite Hans. Oh, I’m going to ask mom and dad about it.” (runs into another room)
Elsa: ???? (“I thought she was talking to me”)
What did Anna do wrong?
- She talked about herself and other people, but not the person she is talking to (Elsa).
- She didn’t give Elsa a chance to speak.
- She didn’t ask Elsa any questions.
- She talked for a long time.
- She ran off in the middle of the conversation and left Elsa very confused.
- She talked about something (hot things) that would not be interesting for Elsa (who likes cold things).
- She made sudden topic shifts.
Scenario #2: Belle & the Beast
How to have a better conversation:
Belle: Bonjour! How are you doing?
Beast: I’m doing pretty well. How are you?
Belle: I’m good. I just finished another book in the library.
Beast: How long did it take you to finish it?
Belle: A day and a half! I’m going to start a new one when I get a chance.
Beast: You’ve got plenty to choose from.
Belle: Do you have any recommendations?
Beast: Yes, one of my favorites is a history book. It’s a big red one on the top shelf.
Belle: Thanks! I’ll look for that one. See you later!
What did Belle and the Beast do right?
- They asked each other how they were doing.
- They took turns speaking.
- They took short turns and gave each other a chance to speak.
- They asked each other questions.
- Belle talked about books, something that she knew the Beast would be interested in.
- The conversation had a natural ending. Nobody was left hanging.
- They stayed on the same topic.
Just because these are fictional characters doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them about how to have a good conversation. Hope you enjoyed this blog post!
Written by: Kira (age 13)
with assistance from Megan Gross, MS, CCC-SLP