Six discussion classes for back to school

It’s back to school time, well for many teachers it is anyway. I’m going to be taking a group for the next two months before my travel commitments pick up again and I’m preparing my first classes. One idea I often use is something I picked up from a colleague of mine in Barcelona, Mark McKinnon. It’s called a “lucky dip” and consists of a series of questions on a theme. Each question is written on a different long thin strip of paper. The papers are then all clutched together and the student picks one (the lucky dip) and answers it. I’ve used it with many one-to-one classes, and with groupwork in larger classes. Here a six different categories of questions that I’ve used for “first classes”. Maybe they’ll be helpful for a first class for you?

1 Summer holiday

Describe your summer holiday in five words or less. What did you do this summer holiday that was different to other summers? What was “typical” of this summer for you? What would you have done if you’d had an extra week of holidays? Describe in detail one thing that you bought or paid for this summer. How have summer holidays changed for you since you were a child?

2 Summer news

Can you remember three international news stories from this summer (what were they)? Did you follow the football World Cup or another sports event (what was your favourite part)? What was the strangest news item you heard about this summer? Look at these three headlines from this summer’s news (you need to supply the headlines for this): what do you know about each news story?

3 The English language

What are your favourite words in English? What is the most difficult thing for you about learning English? Who was your first English teacher and what was he/she like? Look through your English coursebook (if you are using one), find three topics you think are interesting and compare with a partner. How important is English in your country? Imagine everybody in the world spoke English; what would be some of the possible disadvantages of this situation?

4 Establishing good habits

When do you study best: morning, afternoon or night? Where do you like to study? Can you think of one good way to remember new words? How much do you aim on studying English outside class every week? Set yourself a goal. Do you know any good websites to practise your English? Share with a partner.

5 Names

Are you named after someone in your family (who)? Do you have a nickname (what is it, and who calls you this)? If you had a child (or another child) now, what would you call him/her? Do you think a person’s name determines, in a way, the kind of life they will have? If you could have any other name, what would it be? What names do you think are particularly ugly?

6 Music and film

Do you listen to different kinds of music for different moods you are in (e.g. your “happy music”, your “sad music”)? What was the latest CD/song you bought? Would you like to study a song in English class (which one)? What was the last film you saw? If they made a film of your life, who would you like to play you? Think of three great films and three absolutely awful films, then compare lists with a parnter.

As usual, I’ve tried here to steer away from the typical questions. Feel free to add more to these lists. One can never have too many questions up one’s sleeve to ask students and get them talking!

Published in: on September 6, 2010 at 9:33 am  Comments (2)  
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