Reviewing grammar through round-robin interviews

Lance Stilp, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

Quick guide

  • Keywords: Penny Ur, grammar review, modals
  • Learner English level: Beginner to advanced
  • Learner maturity: University
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Activity time: 2 days (45 to 60 minutes each)
  • Materials: Large poster paper (B4/A3 size), markers, example classified advertisements for job positions, computers with Internet, timer


This activity focuses on reviewing a grammar lesson or unit that is communicative and interactive. The original activity is based on an activity from Penny Ur’s book, Grammar practice activities: A practical guide for teachers (Ur, 1988). This activity is done as a round-robin style interview. Students will divide into equal number groups and become a hiring committee. Not only will each group be in charge of “hiring” a new employee, but they will also each individually attend an interview for another job. Therefore, during the actual interview, students will leave temporarily to interview for another position, while their other group members remain interviewers.



Step 1: Students should already be familiar with the target grammar or focus. 

Step 2: Give students an overview sheet of the next two days. Include grading criteria, class procedure each day, homework, and discussion questions. Discussion questions should reflect the types of grammar the teacher wants to review. 

Step 3: The teacher should prepare ahead of time the materials needed from prep day (classified ads, discussion questions, posters, markers) and for interview day (example interviews, stopwatch, group assignments).



Step 1: Begin the lesson by showing students various classified advertisements for different job opportunities. Ask students to discuss in small groups whether or not they have had work experience or if they want to apply for any of these jobs. 

Step 2: Distribute review or guide sheet. Have students discuss and create wanted posters for their hiring position. Let students be creative, but make sure that they are using the target grammar (e.g., modals) in their poster. 

Step 3: Students post their wanted ads around the room. Afterwards, students are selected (either by the teacher ahead of time, randomly, or by some other method) for an interview for a different position; they can get up and observe the wanted poster. Let students take pictures with their cellphones since they will need the job information in order to prepare for their interview.

Step 4: Tell students that they will need to come up with 10 interview questions in their hiring committee, either with remaining class time or as homework. Each group member should receive a copy of the interview questions and practice them before interview day.

Step 5: Remind students that they have two different tasks over the weekend: to prepare to interview their classmates as a hiring committee, and also prepare for their own selected interview. If time permits, have students brainstorm possible questions/answers for their own interviews.


Day 2

Step 1: Ask students if they have ever had an interview before. Let them discuss some good/bad interviewing techniques. Consider showing a video of two different interviews and having them discuss which one is better and why. 

Step 2: Allow students to ask questions about their interview questions, pronunciation, or prepare for their own interview. Remind interviewers that they should take notes during the interview in order to select the best candidate at the end.

Step 3: Conduct the interviews. Each student interviews for three minutes, with one minute afterwards for interviewers to discuss their notes. Students should know their order ahead of time.

Step 4: Allow time for students to discuss which candidate is accepted for the job and provide two reasons why. Present the winners to the whole class.



I believe that this type of activity allows students to engage with target grammar structures in a meaningful and communicative way. It blends discussion, group work, individual work, and communication activities together into a 2- to 3-day project. For evaluation, I typically combine group and individual scores, placing emphasis on poster creation, interview questions, and overall effort in the interview. 



Ur, P. (1988). Grammar practice activities: A practical guide for teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.