- Keywords: Stating opinions, giving reasons
- Learner English level: Elementary and above
- Learner maturity: Junior high school and above
- Preparation time: 10 minutes (+30 minutes
- follow-up time)
- Activity time: 30-60 minutes
- Materials: List of statements related to the lesson content
This activity is an effective way of encouraging students to produce reasons to agree or disagree with a statement. It can be used in a number of different contexts, ranging from general English Conversation classes, to Business English, to ESP/EAP lessons. The activity allows students to practice all of the major language skills and exposes them to a variety of opinions and viewpoints. Students often find it easier to state their opinions in smaller groups and this activity provides them with that opportunity. The extension also promotes deeper discussions and debates.
Step 1: Prepare a list of connected statements (See Appendix A for an example). The size of the list depends on the number of students in the class.
Step 2: Print the statements individually onto a large sheet of paper (ideally B4 or A3 size).
Step 1: To demonstrate this activity when it is first used with a class, begin by writing a statement on the board. The statement needs to be reasonably open so as to encourage students to agree or disagree with it, e.g., ‘Children should help with the housework to get an allowance.’
Step 2: Divide the class into pairs or small groups. Ask the groups to brainstorm reasons to agree or disagree with the statement.
Step 3: After a suitable amount of time, elicit three reasons to agree or disagree from the class and write them on the board.
Step 4: Give each group one of the sheets containing a statement and ask them to fold the paper in half. There should be enough statements for each group to have their own, unique statement. Then, the students think of as many reasons to agree or disagree with their statement as they can. Instruct them to write their reasons on the paper, ‘Agree’ on the left-hand side and ‘Disagree’ on the right-hand side.
Step 5: When ready, the groups pass their opinion paper to a different group. They then read the new statement and the agree/disagree reasons written by the previous group and try to add their own reasons to the list.
Step 6: The process described in Steps 4 and 5 is repeated until every group has had a chance to write about every statement, the students are having difficulty coming up with new reasons, or the lesson ends.
Step 7: After the activity has finished, collect the reason lists. Then, collate the reasons into tables under each opinion and hand them out to the students in the next lesson (See Appendix B for an example follow-up handout).
Once the students have received the handout in the following lesson, the reasons can be discussed and debated.
Depending on the context, the teacher can vary the level of assistance they give the students, but it is important that the groups see the ideas they write as their own. Perhaps the most important aspect of this activity is that the students realize that their ideas will be kept and used to make the follow-up handout. This shows them that their opinions and ideas are valued, and that they are contributing to a shared collection of knowledge. Once the first follow-up handout for a topic has been made, it can be added to in subsequent courses, which broadens the range of viewpoints, increases the students’ sense of contribution, and decreases the time the teacher needs to prepare.
The appendices are available as a downloadable PDF file below.