Introduce a question and answer, then instruct students to ask the question to their neighbour.  They then answer the question and ask the same question to their neighbour and so on.

Keep feeding the rows questions that get more and more difficult.  You can then make it a competition, so the first row with the last person in it to have answered the last question wins.  This is good for practising Q & A and it means that everybody is asked all of the questions without getting bored.

If you want to, you can have the questions on slips of paper and they get passed back in the row.


About misstdunne

I'm a French and Spanish teacher with a passion for ICT. My blog seems to be mainly how-to-guides and reviews of things I find useful, but who knows how it will develop in the future! Views are my own, not my employer's.

19 responses »

  1. missegordon says:

    Lovely activity for prep for controlled assessments as well.

  2. Dave Dunbar says:

    What happens when half way through, the one student who doesn’t ever want to do languages says no!?

    • misstdunne says:

      The line comes to a stop. If it’s a competition, the other students around them tend to get disgruntled as it means they won’t win. The line stopping is a sign that something is wrong and triggers teacher intervention, the same that happens whenever a student refuses to take part in any activity.

    • missegordon says:

      Always a danger! In an ideal world everything goes smoothly, but you may get a non-participating student. This could happen any time. As misstdunne said, any stoppage would just result in the usual classroom discipline routines coming into force. Any activity (especially with speaking) could potentially cause this problem. This activity actually does a lot to avoid it as the students do not have to speak “in public” – only to someone opposite them, and so they don’t feel as scrutinised.

      • Dave Dunbar says:

        Ah thank you. I just wondered. So really you let the class deal with it unless it’s a major “stoppage’. I assume you would pick the class that you would do this with as some would be bound to grind to a halt.

  3. Dave Dunbar says:

    Oh and I would be careful about the thought that speaking to an opposite makes them feel more secure. 30 years teaching undergraduates tell me that is not the case. They still feel out in the open..honest.

    • missegordon says:

      Unfortunately in languages speaking is 1/4 of what goes on, give or take. A good way to boost students’ confidence in this skill can by just to reduce their audience. Most of my students agree that they’d rather talk to their friend/classmate than have all eyes on them at the front of the class. Some students won’t feel secure at all, but encouraging this speaking confidence in small steps is part of running an effective MFL classroom.

      • Dave Dunbar says:

        I agree and it’s not just in a MFL situation. Although I must say that our students have said that there really isn’t much difference between standing at the front in focus and being in focus in your seat. I assume it’s something you learn to be comfortable with.

      • missegordon says:

        Sure, you NEED to become more comfortable with it in MFL. The bonus in this activity is that most other people around you are talking as well, so you’re only really being watched/listened to one other person – the person you’re talking to.

  4. Dave Dunbar says:

    Ah, that’s what makes the difference…you blend in to the general hubbub..So how does the teacher work out if it’s working and who is getting it correct?

    • misstdunne says:

      By being a teacher, having a trained ear for off-topic discussions, struggling students and generally having a sixth sense. Oh, at the same time as juggling and spinning plates. These activities aren’t “set them off speaking so I can get on with my marking,” they are designed to get 30+ students speaking at once. If you make every student speak individually so you can give feedback on it, students get very bored, very fast.

  5. misstdunne says:

    The idea of this activity is high speed, constant questions and answers. In a competition situation, kids probably aren’t even listening properly to what is being said. This is essentially purely a speaking task, all they need to absorb is the question.
    By speaking to peers, with little to no assessment or judgement going on, students are less likely to feel pressured.
    Students are shy and reluctant to talk in a foreign language, yet when questioned, it’s the aspect of a language that they feel has most value and productive. Remove speaking, and students don’t feel motivated. They enjoy working in pairs and small groups. They enjoy working in huge teams. They also enjoy working individually, but this doesn’t work for speaking.

    • Dave Dunbar says:

      Right, I see that but they could be speaking incorrectly, at speed without correction and therefore speed learning incorrect “language” or am I simplifying things too much?

      • misstdunne says:

        Dave, this is an activity for practising. This is used with questions and answers that have been prepared or have set answers. I have used this recapping introductions with Year 7… “what are you called?” generally only has one answer. With higher ability, more advanced groups like GCSE, students quite often self-police. It is quite easy to pick out incorrect language, this is not the time for it. Students need freedom to make mistakes. I quite often take a selection of mistakes and do a whole class feedback on them. The point of this blog post was a quick and easy practice activity for repetitive questions and answers. Not detailed feedback.

      • missegordon says:

        There might be a certain amount of inaccurate language, but the activity promotes confidence and listening/responding in the target language. In the grand scheme of things the activity is not designed for accuracy. As the teacher in this situation I would be listening out for inaccuracies, but also for things that were done well. You could follow this sort of activity up with a “common errors” discussion, highlighting some things to be examined in more detail, rather than showcasing individuals. You can also use this time to showcase examples of good, accurate language.

  6. Dave Dunbar says:

    Ah…now things are becoming a little bit clearer. You see that I’m coming from the outside world and trying to understand. The fact is that you are talking and to a certain extent, lecturing in your own teacher world. I’m not knocking it but you do yourselves no favours by ‘speaking’ in closed shops. Now that, eventually I see the modus I can start to piece things together….

    • missegordon says:

      It’s nice to have an outside perspective once in a while. The prime audience for this is language teachers who are looking for lesson planning ideas, so you may have to forgive a little jargon and assuming some prior knowledge. I’m sure there are a lot of more accessible blogs on the subject for a gentler introduction if you want to explore the topic further. Someone will surely help me out for a recommendation…

  7. Dave Dunbar says:

    Thank you both for your patience…I have learnt a great deal.

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