Levels: strong pre-intermediate to proficiency.
Type: conversational; vocabulary-building.
Skills: reading; speaking; listening.
Language focus: vocabulary development; skills work.
Materials and preparation: these speed-dating questions, cut into the 4 sections; some blu-tack to stick them to your classroom walls; some blank paper (for you) and a pen.
Warmer and ice-breaker
- Board: blind, first, double. Elicit which word comes afterwards (date).
- Elicit the difference between a blind date and a double date (which means two couples together? Which means you haven’t met the other person before you go on a date with them? Is a double date always a first date? etc.)
- Ask your students to think back – have they ever been on a blind date or a double date? Ask them to think about the first date they ever went on (if you like, you can tell them a little about your first date, and invite some [not-too-embarrassingly-personal!] questions about it).
- Divide the students into AB pairs: ask them to tell each other about their first dates, and any blind or double dates they have been on. Occasionally, you might find someone who has never been on a date before (it happens!), in which case you could ask them to talk about their ideal first date (who would it be with? Where would they go? What would they do?).
Language feedback and preparation for the next task
- Whilst the students are talking, board a gapfill out of any useful expressions they use or could have used. Include these expressions in your gapfill (as they appear in the discussion questions later): a celebrity couple, be in a relationship with, love at first sight, online dating.
- If possible, divide your class into four groups. As tell each other about Bs, Bs tell each other about As. Allow a couple of minutes for this, during which time you can stick the discussion questions about dating in different places around the classroom walls.
- Draw your students’ attention to your boarded gapfill. Explain the expressions on the board are all ways of talking about dating and relationships. Ask the groups to decide together what the missing words are.
- If you like, turn this language feedback into a competition: explain that you will define a phrase; students who think they know the missing word call out “yes!”, and the first to say “yes” and complete the expression wins a point for their team.
- You could drill pronunciation after eliciting the missing words (focussing on connected speech, for example, or tricky phonemes).
Conversation and new language practice
- Point out the questions stuck to the classroom walls. Explain all the questions are about dating and relationships, and invite your students to use some of the boarded expressions in their answers. Ask the class, in their groups, to stand up and go together to one of the question sets. Make sure each group is standing in front of a different set of questions! Elicit that the questions are there to inspire conversation, and that each student is welcome to ask other questions that don’t appear.
- Monitor the students’ language as they talk, again noting down any useful expressions they (almost) use, or any grammar point several of them are struggling with. Once a group of learners have finished with one set of questions, they can go to another set and continue their discussion.
Listening focus and language feedback
- When the groups have finished, dictate 5 or 6 expressions you’ve noted down from the language-monitoring stage. Ask your learners to check these together (in pairs or groups of 4), then nominate different learners to read the expressions back to you. Board them and discuss their meaning (when would we use them? How informal are they? What grammatical patterns underpin them? etc.)
- Ask your learners to think of and write some questions they might ask someone on a first date. If you have time in class, ask the students to work together in their groups to think of and write good questions, while you monitor and help with question formation. If you set this task for homework, in the next class, divide your class into small groups and ask them to compare their questions, checking for appropriacy, grammar and vocabulary. Monitor and answer any questions the groups have. In either case, make sure all the students in a group write any questions they want to ask.
- Ask your learners to form new small groups, and ask each other their questions, and any others that come up. Again, monitor for language feedback (both what the students said, and what they could have said – I share some ideas about giving delayed correction here).