Near the beginning of each lesson with my 6th grade students and after the 1st term 5th grade students as well started with 'small talk'.
The ALT and the HRT will have a short conversation and the students listen.
Then the HRT will check their understanding of the conversation in Japanese. Also ask them to translate a few sentences back into English.
Then in pairs the students will have a one or two minute conversation similiar to the one they heard.
A variation has the students shuffle seats and have the conversation more than once with other students.
If their is a odd number of students the ALT makes a pair with one student. If there is an even number both ALT and HRT can make pairs with students.
I've also started using this at the beginning of my junior high lessons. So far I've just been using my elementary school scripts but I'll start adding junior high scripts over time.
I've included a bunch of scripts that I give to the HRT before the lesson. We we often repeat the same dialogue or a very similiar one after a month or so.
It is a great way to review what they've studied since there are no tests in elementary school.
The codes on the scripts are for HF (hi friends) and WC (we can). The scripts are suitable after the class has studied that unit.
I'll add more junior high scripts as the year goes on.