This speaking activity is perfect for bigger groups and serves as both speaking practice and revision. The version below was designed with C1 students in mind but you can adapt it to any level and topic.
What you need
- a list of discussion questions
My preference is to create visuals with Canva which I display on the TV for all my students to see.
Alternatively, you can write your questions on the board, one by one so that the students see only one question at a time.
- vocabulary items you wish to revise
Here, I chose to group my vocabulary by chapter but the way you divide it is up to you (verbs, nouns, collocations, idiomatic expressions, phrasal verbs etc.) I selected 5-6 items per chapter and wrote them using a different font for each word group. Then I cut up the categories into big strips of paper.
- desks arranged in one row or a horseshoe shape
Divide your students into two groups. In case of the horseshoe arrangement, one group stays on their chairs on the outside, the other moves to the inside of the horseshoe. Ideally, students face each other in pairs. In case you don’t have an even number of students, allow the students on the outside of the horseshoe to work in pairs facing one student on the inside.
In case your desks are arranged in one long row, half the students stay on one side of it while the other half move to opposite side.
Each pair receives a strip of paper with vocabulary items written on it. They have to use the language while discussing the question you display on the screen or write on the board. Before you show the question, take some time for the students to get familiar with the vocabulary and discuss the meaning in case they aren’t sure.
Once they have discussed the question, the students on inside move one chair over, to their right. The vocabulary cards which are in rotation move one space over to the left. This way students will have to answer different questions using different randomly selected words. They might come across the same vocabulary strip but still, they will need to employ the language answering a different question which will keep the task challenging.
Each time the vocabulary strip makes its journey, allow some time for the students to get familiar with it.
Once the speaking time is over for each question, take some time to elicit some answers from different pairs who were supposed to employ different language.
The activity ends when you run out of discussion questions.
I used this activity with my C1 group who are getting ready for their Cambridge Advanced exam. They still struggle to make use of vocabulary they learn and practice during the course. Therefore, I decided to force feed them some of the items and see how they manage to use them. As expected, some of the words and expressions I provided, weren’t suitable when answering each question. Also, some vocabulary items proved to be extremely unpopular with my students. Nevertheless, they admitted they were pushed outside of their vocabulary comfort zone and appreciated stretching their language a bit.
On top of that, this activity offers a welcome change from always working with the same speaking partner. It also injects some energy to the lesson which already takes place in the early evening when students are usually quite tired after work or school.