- Key Words: Who, what, where etc.
- Learner English Level: Pre-intermediate and higher
- Learner Maturity Level: Junior high school to college
- Preparation Time: 15 minutes (or less) to make appropriate questions for the particular level of class you are doing this with and 5 minutes to arrange groups and hand out papers
- Activity Time: One class (45-50 minutes)
- Materials: Two sheets of paper per group and pencils
Students always seem to have trouble with questions and answers. This is especially true when speaking in front of the class. In order to give me the opportunity to observe students asking questions and responding without the pressure of performing in front of the whole class, I developed this activity.
You will need two sheets of A4 paper for each group. Take a few moments to have them arrange their desks or chairs into groups.
Step 1: Divide the class into groups. Usually groups of 5-7 members seem to work best.
Step 2: Give each group two sheets of paper. One paper has the heading "Questions" with 1-20 numbered down the side. The second sheet has the heading "Answers" with 1-20 numbered down the side.
Step 3: Tell the class that each group should send one person up to the teacher to hear a question. (e.g. What did you have for breakfast this morning?) When each group has sent up a member, ask them all the same question.
Step 4: They then return to their groups and relay the question to one of the other students, who writes it down.
Step 5: Then in the group they must decide on an appropriate answer. They are told that if their answer is incorrect the teacher will say, "What?"
Step 6: Once they have what they feel is an appropriate answer, a different member comes up to the teacher and says the answer. If it is grammatically correct, the teacher asks the next question to that student and they repeat the process. If the answer is incorrect, the teacher says, "What?" and the student returns to the group to re-work the answer.
Step 7: When one group has a complete list of the questions and correct answers they should inform the teacher and then wait as the others finish.
Step 8: A short while after the first group has finished, tell everyone to stop and declare the champion, even if the others have not finished.
Optional: Go over all the questions they heard and discuss any misunderstandings or mistakes that the students made during the activity.
This has always worked well in class and gives the students some one-to-one work with the teacher as well as cooperative work in the classroom. I have another version of this where the students have a list of question beginnings that they must complete and then ask the teacher in the same manner. If we want our students to actually use the language for communication then we need to use or develop activities that will gently nudge them into realizing what they can do with the language when they cooperate with others and independently go out to get information that can only be acquired through the target language. This activity, I believe, will encourage them to have more faith in their own language skills and help them to realize that they have learned quite a lot through studying the language, and thus motivate them to try to expand on the skills they have already acquired.