Communicative Grammar -- It's Time to Talk.Noriko Nishiguchi
Noriko24gucci [at] aol.com
Nara YMCA and Doshisha Women's University (Japan)
- To reinforce previously studied grammatical and vocabulary areas and to activate them through communicative activities (interviews).
- To enable students to get to know one another more by communicating in English.
- To get students to practice summarizing information in writing.
Level / Class Size
- Can be adjusted to meet almost any class level and size. Works well in large size classes.
Time Necessary for the Activity
- From 30 to 40 minutes
- Decide on a theme or topic that is appropriate for the students considering their areas of interests and levels.
- lower level students: topics that are connected to their everyday lives, hobbies, school, friends, memories, likes and dislikes, etc
- more advanced level students: topics that go beyond everyday matters such as social issues, values, news, etc
- Decide the grammatical area(s) to be focused on, to be reinforced or to be introduced.
- Prepare six to eight questions related to the particular topic area chosen in #1, the theme/topic, and the grammatical area in #2.
- lower level students: Start with yes or no questions.
- more advanced level students: Start with WH questions (where, who, when, why, and what) and questions asking for opinions.
- Use the questions to make a gap filling or matching exercise.
- Add space for students to produce their own questions.
- On the backside, write a number (letter) on each handout - two handouts with the same number (letter), so that in class students can look for their partners to pair up with (someone with the same number) to do the interviews.
(Sample 1) Grammar focus: reviewing WH questions and responses about travel
|LET'S FIND OUT! -- Travel|
was your worst trip?|
do you want to do most when you travel?
was the last time you went on a trip?
do you usually travel with?
do you want to travel to next?
do you like to /don't like to travel?
was your best trip?
Let's match and make four or five questions. (Write an original
question for number five.)
(Sample 2) Grammar focus: How questions
|LET'S FIND OUT! -- Summer Vacation|
did you go traveling?|
books/movies did you read/see?
did you cook your meals?
days did you do part-time work?
did you go out with your friends?
times did you go swimming?
were you up until every night?
money did you save?
Let's complete the questions and choose four. (Write an original
question for number five.)
- Have the students match and complete the questions in the box. This can be done in groups or on their own. Ask for volunteers or assign students to write their questions on the board for everyone to see. Go around and help students make their original questions.
- Start the interview activity. Students, with a pen and their handout, go around looking for their partners asking, "What's your number? / What number are you?" They sit down with their partners and interview each other with their questions in English.
- After they finish the interview, have them write a short report (summary)
to the teacher of their interview results. Small classes can report
the results orally.
- This activity can be used not only as a review but also to introduce new grammatical areas or vocabulary. With a little bit of creativity and flexibility on the teacher's side it can be expanded or made more challenging.
- For more advance level classes, the interview questions can be made totally by the students themselves. In such cases, the teacher can provide topics which students can choose from to create their own questions for the interview part. For example, the teacher brings in the topic; "Things in Fashion" and sub--topics; karaoke, shops, designer brand goods and inter-net shopping. Students then choose a topic and prepare their questions individually or with their group members.
- Encouraging students to stay in English, to use as much English as possible can also be the teacher's challenge. Having students set their goals as to how much English they are going to use in the activity helps them stay motivated. In this case, it is suggested that students also evaluate themselves after the activity.
- Responding to the reports the students have written is one way to
have some kind of contact with individual students, especially effective
with large classes.
Final ThoughtsStudents have commented that this activity helped them get to know and talk to members in the class they usually don't talk to. (This was a college class of 55 first year students.) They were also able to get new information, hear different thoughts and opinions from various members. Setting their goals as to how much English they were going to use in the activity helped them take more responsibility in their learning. Many said they realized that they had to play a more positive role in their language studies: to ask questions when they didn't understand, to set their own goals and work towards them and to make efforts to use the language and not just sit and listen to the teacher. Some were simply happy when they were able to have a successful interview with their partners.
As a teacher I felt, at first, this activity required more work on the teacher's side. However, seeing students trying to use the language to communicate with one another and asking me questions when they got stuck, encouraged me to continue this activity at the beginning of each class as a warm-up activity. Progress could be seen in the students' reports as well. By responding to their writings, I was able to communicate with them and at the same time, students were able to see that writing was another way they could communicate in English.
The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. IX, No. 4, April 2003