Lesson ideas on dating and relationships 2 – working with a text

Levels: upper-intermediate to advanced.
Ages: older teens and adults.
Type: discussion and grammar dictation/reading tasks based on a text about speed dating.
Skills: reading; writing; speaking; listening.
Language focus: grammar- and vocabulary-building, using (semi-)fixed expressions from the text, and your students’ own words.

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Materials: copies of this two-page worksheet, one per student (and one for yourself). Your students will need some blank paper and pens.

Procedure:

Guided visualisation

  • Ask your learners to close their eyes. Ask them to imagine they are enjoying a wonderful date. Ask them to picture who they are with (it could be anybody). Is it daytime or in the evening? Where are they? What are they doing? What can they see? What can they hear? Are there any other people around them? If so, what are they doing?
  • When the learners are ready, ask them to open their eyes. Pair your students, and ask them to tell their partner who they were with, where they were and what was happening around them.
  • Ask a couple of students to tell us all about their partner’s imagined date. If they like, listening students can ask questions to the student whose date it was.

Mock speed date

  • Ask your learners what it is like to go on a first date with someone: how do they feel? Where do they like to go? What kinds of things do they talk about? If you like, and your students would like to talk about this, encourage them to discuss this in pairs, and then groups of four or five. You can monitor their language and give some delayed feedback afterwards (see here for some ideas on giving delayed error correction).
  • Otherwise, after hearing a few students’ answers to the questions above, ask each student, on their own, to write four or five questions they think would be good to ask someone on a first date. Divide your class into small groups and ask them to compare their questions: which do they like? Are there any they think would be dangerous or inappropriate to ask (and, if so, why)? Are there any grammar or vocabulary points they want to correct or change? Monitor and answer any questions the groups have, and make sure all the students in each group write down any questions they like.
  • Ask your learners to sit or stand in two circles, one inner circle facing out and one outer circle facing in. If possible, try to ensure a mix of males and females in both circles, and that there is an even number in both circles (else two people can work together).
  • Explain or elicit that the students will be asking their questions to each other (you may want to stress that first date questions are also great for getting to know people better!). Explain that they have 4 minutes to ask their questions to the person sitting closest to them in the other circle. Board “change!” and elicit that, after 4 minutes, those in the outer circle should move one place anti-clockwise, and can ask their questions to the next student, and so on.
  • Start the activity, and note down any useful language for subsequent feedback.
  • Stop the activity when you sense the students are getting a bit overwhelmed, and allow them to sit back down.
  • Give some language feedback, perhaps as a gapfill or a dictation (again, see here for various ways of giving delayed error correction).
  • Board: “speed dating”. Elicit this is what the students have just been simulating. Has anyone been speed dating? Would they like to try it? Why (not)?

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Grammar dictation

  • Make sure your students have a pen and some blank paper. Ask them to listen carefully and write down the words and numbers they will hear.
  • Dictate the following: two colleagues, two or three encounters, a few glasses of wine, £20, her first, 20 days later, 36, six to 12 months.
  • Say these come from a short article about speed dating from a British newspaper. Pairs: ask students to make a story to go with these numbers. Why might they be in the article? Ask a couple of students to share their ideas with the class.
  • Read the text at a natural pace (but maybe pausing for longer than usual between paragraphs), asking students to listen for the numbers and make notes about them – what do they refer to? Was their story correct? When you’ve finished reading aloud, ask your students to compare their notes in pairs.
  • Read the text again. Ask learners again to compare notes, this time in groups of four.
  • In their groups, ask learners to reconstruct the text using their notes. Make yourself available to help with language or answer any questions.
  • Display these reconstructed texts around the class, along with the original text. Which is closest to the original? Which is the most different? Which is the class’ favourite article?

Vocabulary-building and discussion tasks based on the text

  • If you like, you could ask your students, perhaps working in pairs or small groups, to do the collocation-building/vocabulary matching task from page 2 of my worksheet (tasks A and B). The collocations are: a bit awkward; a long-term relationship; an immediate physical attraction; a speed-dating event; a whirlwind romance; they were nice enough [but…]; everyday life; felt a strong attraction [to …]; the relationship blossomed.
  • Alternatively, either ask each group to write three to five questions about speed-dating based on the article, or dictate these questions (which could be written in part C of the second page of the worksheet): do you think they will have a happy marriage? Do you think this could happen to you? Would you recommend speed-dating to a friend? What’s would be your perfect date – where would you go, who would you be with and what would you do?
  • Ask your students to form new pairs. They ask each other the questions (their own, or the dictated ones above).

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Follow-up

  • Perhaps for homework, ask your learners to write a follow-up article about the speed-dating couple: It’s 10 years later. How have their lives changed? Are they still together? Do they have kids? Would they still recommend speed-dating to their friends?

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