This is a great activity for getting students talking. I have used it successfully with many different levels and age groups and have found that it is very effective at motivating teenagers to talk. It is particularly useful for practising describing appearance, character and interests.
You will need a selection of flashcards of people, a mixture of ages and types.
- Put a picture of a person on the board and ask the students to tell you his/her name, age and job. Write whatever they tell you on the board. (Note: at first they may be a bit confused and think that they should know the person, they will soon get the idea.)
- Then ask them to describe him/her physically (again write what they tell you on the board). Repeat this procedure for his/her character and hobbies. You should end up with a paragraph profile of the person.
- Read the description of the person and elicit from the students that he/she is not happy because they are single and would like to meet a man/woman.
- Then follow the same procedure above to elicit a description of the person that they would like to meet. At the end of all this you should have two descriptions.
- Tell the students that you see these kinds of descriptions in lonely hearts pages in magazines and newspapers.(You could even bring some in to show them.)
- Give the students a picture each and tell them not to show it to anyone. You may have to stress this, as it is a temptation to show the pictures to friends in the class. The students then have to write a description of the person in the picture and the person they would like to meet. Point out that they can use the model on the board as a guide. Monitor and feed in language as they need it.
- Tell the students to leave their pictures face down on the table and to mingle. The aim is for them to try and find a partner for the person in their picture. At lower levels they can take the description with them as they mingle. They need to talk to everybody and not just settle for the first person who comes along asking questions to ensure they find the right person. It is also a good idea to play some romantic music in the background as they are mingling (Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder).
- After you have given them enough time to find partners, stop the activity (if they are being very choosy give them a time limit and tell them they must compromise and find a partner). Conduct a feedback session and ask the students to tell the class about their invented character and the partner that they have found. The class can then see the pictures for the first time and decide if they think it will be a successful relationship.
- Students can write the story of the relationship or can write letters to the new partners.
- You can change the context and replace the pictures of the people with pictures of houses/flats and ask the students to be either estate agents or buyers looking for a place to live. Again they can write descriptions of places they want to sell (of varying standards) and places they would like to buy, mingle and try to find their dream homes.
- You can adapt the basic idea to suit many different topics.
Richard Frost, British Council, Turkey
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