Speed Dating Speaking Practise

How do you get 28 kids to practise their speaking and listening skills without leaving anyone out?

You do it speed dating style!

We have created what we call at our school Questions Personelles to go with every unit of study. These range from Combien de personnes est-ce qu'il y a dans ta famille? to Quels films d'horreur est-ce que tu aimes? and many many more. As a result, it is difficult to always have the time to ask every individual student the series of questions so that they get a chance to answer all of them prior to the final exam.

In order to do this, I break the class into 2 sections and within those 2 section, they are again broken up into the "Interviewer" and the "Interviewee". We set-up the desks in 2 rows with the "Interviewers" facing me and the "Interviewees" with their backs to me.

The "dating session" starts with everyone having their question/answer sheet out. The "Interviewers" begin asking the questions while the "Interviewees" answer. After about 30 seconds, I make some really loud ridiculous sound by yelling something out or playing one off the internet, or I play part of a song, anything to indicate that the "Interviewees" in the row furthest from the front of the class need to move to the right and those in the front row need to go left, essentially so it all flows and as the "Interviewee" you end up going in a circle. And no matter how many times we do this exercise, there is always someone who tries to go to what I call "their other right or left"! And the person at the end of the row never seems to understand where to go, no matter how many times I've explained the instructions. So, the person on an end of a row will continue on to the next row of tables, still in the "Interviewee" position. As time goes by, I ask them to not look at their sheet when they start to feel confident about answering, sometimes this requires a little coaxing, but I remind them that they cannot use it for the oral exam so they may as well start to get used to that.

Why not throw in a visual?

Meanwhile, I am circulating, listening to pronunciation and going over students' answers on their sheets to correct any major mistakes. At the same time the "Interviewer" is always meant to listen out for mistakes and to offer suggestions as to corrections that can be made. 

Depending on how many questions we have, I usually have them go through the set at least twice in that role, then the roles change. This way, everyone gets a chance to ask and answer questions.

By answering, they get to practise listening to someone other than me asking them the question and can receive constructive criticism from their peers on their pronunciation and quality of answer. Then by asking the questions, they can offer the same service. 

I use this activity a few times throughout the semester and it always seems to go over well and really gives everyone a chance to practise in a very thorough way.

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