Levels: strong pre-intermediate to proficiency.
Ages: older teens and adults.
Type: discussion-based lesson idea, unjumbling questions and conducting a mock speed dating event.
Skills: writing; speaking; listening.
Language focus: vocabulary-building; grammar work on forming questions in English.
Materials: this two-page worksheet, one copy per student; some blank paper (to make notes for feedback); a pen.
Warmer and word-ordering task
- Board: _________ dating.
Ask Ss what words they know that can come before “dating” in English. Elicit “speed dating” if no-one suggests it (other possibilities are “online dating”, “internet dating”, “[to be] dating” – even “carbon dating” would fit!). Elicit the meanings of the collocations you and your students agree on, giving examples as necessary.
- Divide your students into pairs or threes. Show the class page one of the worksheet. Explain that it has 10 questions, but that the words are mixed up. Read out the first question, as it is written, and ask your class what’s wrong. Elicit what they have to do together (re-order the words to make English questions). Elicit they should try the next question if one is too hard. Agree on a task time limit (say, 5 minutes). If you like, you could turn this task into a game: board “stop!” and elicit that this is what groups should shout if they have finished. The first group to finish AND have all the questions correct wins the game.
- Start the activity and monitor it. Only help if you feel you have no choice; and be prepared to agree an extension on the time limit if your students ask for one.
- When the class is ready, stop the activity. Nominate different students to read you their completed questions, while the others listen carefully and check their versions – do they have the same? Again, you could turn this into a competition: one point for a correctly-formulated question; one point for a good correction; and whoever has the most points at the end wins (you should have ready a small prize for these competitions – a paper clip, a piece of blu-tack or something else that won’t cost you much, but lends an extra sense of fun).
- Ask your students if anyone can guess when these questions might be asked? (On a date, especially on a speed date).
Writing focus: practising question formation in English
- Tell the students to think about what other questions people might ask on a speed date. Ask them to work together (in their pairs or small groups) to think of more questions they could ask, and to write these down. Again, allow about five minutes for this.
- If you have an even number of groups, bring two together; ask them to swap questions and check each other’s grammar and vocabulary. Otherwise, ask each group to pass their questions to the group on their left and check grammar and vocab. Circulate and help with any problems your learners encounter.
- After a few minutes, invite one member of each group to return the questions to their writers, and discuss any changes they made. The groups can ask you if they are not sure.
Speed-dating discussion task
- When they have finished, ask your students to help you move the classroom furniture, so that they can sit opposite each other, in pairs. Then, sit your students in pairs, facing each other (if you have an odd number of students, make one group of three). One half of each pair is “A” and the other is “B”. Make sure your students know who is who :-)
- Board: “five minutes” and “Change!” Elicit that the students are going to practice having conversations in a speed date-like event, that they have five minutes to get to know their partner and that, after five minutes, you will shout change!, which means As have to move and sit with a new partner. Elicit that your students should ask the questions on page two of the worksheet: both their own and those provided. Elicit they can ask other questions which are not on the worksheet.
- Start the activity, boarding any useful expressions you hear in a gapfill (think also about expressions your students could have used, but didn’t – it can be good to challenge students by presenting them with alternative ways of saying things; I share some ideas on giving delayed error correction here).
Vocabulary-building and follow-on task
- Stop the activity after about 15 minutes. Point out the gapfill you’ve boarded, and explain these are all sentences the learners said, or nearly said. Ask them to work with their current partner and decide what the missing words are on your boarded gapfill. Allow a few minutes for them to discuss their ideas, then invite feedback.
- Ask your learners to choose five expressions from they board which they’d like to remember, and to write these on their question sheets.
- Either continue the activity, encouraging the learners to use the expressions they wrote, or ask them to form new groups of 3 or 4, and to ask their favourite questions, using some of the boarded expressions in their replies.
- Ask your students to write about their (or one of their speaking partner’s) ideal dates for homework; or ask them to write a profile for a dating website – again, either about them or one of the people they spoke with. These can then be shared (as long as your students are happy to do so), either with the person they wrote about, or with the class.