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Prepare individual questions on slips of paper. The questions should all use the superlative form. For example:
- What's the most interesting country you've been to?
- What school subject are/were you worst at?
- What's the tallest building you've been in?
- Who's the strangest person you've met?
- What's the greatest problem in the world today?
Design the questions so that they suit your class.
- Give each student two or three questions.
- Put the students in pairs.
- They interview each other – encourage them to talk extensively in response to the questions.
- After five to ten minutes (depending upon the amount of conversation), call out 'STOP'.
- Swap the partners round.
- The students interview their new partner.
- After a while, stop and swap.
- Depending on the size and energy of the class, keep stopping and swapping.
- Once you think you have stopped and swapped enough, ask the students to return to their original seats.
- To round off, they should tell their neighbour about some of the answers they received.
Recently, I did this activity with a class of 16 intermediate adult students. They swapped partners five times, and in total the activity lasted one hour – one hour of nearly non-stop student talking time.
I think the activity worked because although the students asked the same questions to each partner, they of course heard differing answers because the questions were so personalised. The variety in the question topics also generated interest. Every time you went to a new partner, you had no idea what you would be asked. So, all you need to do is think of enough questions for the students!