Speaking: Circles Coursebook Topic Discussion

Levels: pre-intermediate to advanced.
Ages: teens; adults.
Type: conversations based on the coursebook topic title; mingle.
Skills: listening; speaking.
Language focus: previewing coursebook vocab (and perhaps grammar structures).

Note: I found a close relation to this activity in 700 Classroom Activities by David Seymour and Maria Popova (Oxford: Macmillan, 2005)

Preparation: A coursebook topic title; some questions.


  1. Ask the students to help you push any classroom tables back against the walls.
  2. Group the students into two circles: an inner circle facing outwards, and an outer circle facing inwards. The two circles of students should now be facing each other.
  3. Ask a question relating to the topic title*; explain that the students have two minutes to discuss this question with the person facing them.
  4. After two minutes, ask the outer circle to move one space to their left. Repeat the procedure, asking a different question – this time, students have just 90 seconds to discuss with their new partner.
  5. Repeat again, each time allowing less time for speaking, until all the students have spoken with each other.
  6. Ask them to sit down with their final partner. In pairs, they discuss what the most interesting question they heard was, and the most interesting response.
  7. Conduct a whole class feedback on this; and then proceed to the main listening or reading task of the unit.

*For example, if the topic was “Women’s Work?” (unit 5C, Straightforward Advanced), questions might include: “Who normally does your housework in your home?“, “What is your least favourite household chore?“, “What would you do if your partner insisted you stay at home and look after the house?“, etc.

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