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Pair and group activities

Pair and group work

Stages in teaching dialog

In acquiring necessary habits in carrying on a conversation pattern-dialogs may be helpful. When a pattern-dialog is used as a unit of teaching there are three stages in teaching a dialog:

  1. receptive

Students receive the dialog by ear first. They listen to the dialog recorded or reproduced by the teacher. The teacher helps students in comprehension of the dialog using pictures. They listen to the dialog a second time and then read it silently for better understanding paying attention to intonation.

  1. reproductive

Students reproduce the dialog in imitation of the speaker or the teacher after they have heard it. The students are asked to learn the dialog by heart for homework. After students have learnt the dialog at home, they enact the dialog in persons. Students can enact the dialog with some changes in content. They change some elements in the dialog. As a result of this work students master the structure of the pattern-dialog and can use it as a model for making up their own dialogs. That’s why pattern- dialogs should be carefully selected.

  1. constructive(creative)

Students make up their own dialogs. This is possible if students have mastered the structures of the pattern-dialogs; know a number of phrases for starting and joining the conversation; can make statements and ask questions of different types, can make responses; etc. Audio-visual aids should be extensively used at this stage.

In pair work the teacher divides the class into pairs. Every student works with the partner, and all the pairs work at the same time. In group work the teacher divides the class into small groups to work together (usually 4 or 5 students in each group). As in pair work, all the groups work at the same time. For certain types of activities pair work and group work has a number of advantages:

  • Students have more chances to speak English
  • All the students are involved in the active learning process
  • Students collaborate, exchange ideas, help and correct each other
  • Students feel secure

However there might be some problems:

  • Not all students participate equally
  • Students make mistakes
  • Difficult to control the class
  • There is classroom noise (but if it is in English it is a “good” noise)


Jigsaw picture :Ss in groups have a series of pictures that tells a story. In pairs they retell the story by putting the pictures in the proper order.

Ranking activities: Ss in groups rank qualities, factors or items from the most important to the least important.

Describing a picture: Each group has a picture which all members of the group can see. One person is chosen to be a secretary. The group has two minutes to say as many sentences as they can that describe it. The secretary marks a check on a piece of paper representing each sentence. At the end of two minutes, groups report how many checks they have. This is a simple activity for beginners.

Information gap: Ss find missing information from each other by asking questions. Ss are given two pictures, schedules or maps that are almost identical; however each one has missing information. If pictures are selected, Ss have to ask one another about the differences without looking at the partner’s picture. If maps or schedules are selected, Ss have to ask questions in order to complete their map or schedule.

Guessing games: Ss make guesses to discover the information known by another person. For example, the teacher has a picture, but he doesn’t show it to the Ss. By asking questions Ss must find out what the picture looks like. The teacher can only answer “yes” or “no”, but can help by giving hints.

Interviews: Teacher has Ss interview for a job, do opinion polls or group interviews.

Discussion: Ss are given a topic to discuss.

Debate: Ss are given a controversial topic that they debate. A simpler form is to give Ss a statement or a quote that is controversial. If they agree, they stand on one side of the room; disagree- on the other side of the room; sometimes agree- in the middle.

Problem solving: Ss in groups are given a problem and must come up with the solution.

Role play: Ss imagine a role, for example, a customer in the shop. They take part in a situation, acting out a conversation. It gives a chance to use language in new contexts and for new topics, use natural expressions, intonation, gestures.

Simulation: Ss do not imagine but they are themselves. They solve the real tasks or problems.


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