Conversations from student-generated questions

Levels: elementary to advanced.
Ages: adults.
Type: conversation/fluency practice from student-generated, written questions.
Skills: listening; speaking; reading; writing.
Language focus: grammar – question-formation; vocabulary – informal/conversational; other grammar and vocab points as they arise.

Materials: blank paper & blu-tack OR post-it notes (5 per student). Students must have pens.

Preparation: if you’re using paper rather than post-it notes, cut the paper into strips (5 strips per student).

Procedure:

  1. Board “in the pub” or “with your friends”. Elicit what topics your students might talk about in this situation. Board the topics (which might include: friends; family; music; film; books; relationships; hopes and fears; future plans; your last holiday; the weekend; etc.)
  2. If your class is lower-level, you might want to elicit some example questions here, and go through the question forms.
  3. Show your students the paper/post-it notes. Explain that you will give them five each. Elicit that they should write five questions, one on each piece of paper, on topics from the board. Elicit that these should be questions they might ask their friends in the boarded social situation.
  4. Distribute the paper/post-it notes. Allow about 4 minutes for students to write their questions. Faster finishers can write a sixth question. Slower finishers can write just four.
  5. Ask all your students to pass their questions to the person on the left. Elicit they should not ask any of their questions yet. Ask your students to check the grammar and vocabulary of the questions they’ve been given. Is there anything they want to change? You can circulate around the room here, giving any advice as necessary.
  6. Go round the room, dividing your students into A, B, A, B, etc. pairs. If you have an odd number of students, the final two can both be Bs.
  7. Ask As to give grammar feedback to Bs. Then ask the Bs to give grammar feedback to As. Be available to help with any questions here.
  8. Distribute the blu-tack, if necessary. Ask all your students to stand up and go and put the questions on the walls.
  9. Divide your students into groups of 3 or 4. Ask them to circulate, choosing questions they want to discuss with their partners. Elicit that they can ask follow-up questions, and that the purpose of the activity is to practice conversational fluency, so they should give full answers wherever possible. Set a time-limit of perhaps 15 minutes for your students.
  10. Monitor your students’ conversations and note down any language errors and good usage.
  11. Elicit some content feedback – perhaps you could nominate one or two students to tell the class one interesting thing they heard from one of their partners. The class could then ask any follow-up questions to get more information.
  12. Give language feedback – perhaps boarding gapped sentences from your notes and asking each group to decide what word goes in each of the gaps.

Follow-up: You could regroup the students and ask them to choose three or four sentences from the board. They could then expand these into a longer, written dialogue (while you circulate, helping with any grammar and vocabulary issues), which they could then perform. This time, the listening students and you could monitor for pronunciation.

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