Question: It's the beginning of a new school year and I'd like to create an opportunity to remind my B2 learners of the importance of their attitude and learning strategies for their success in mastering a foreign language. Any suggestions?

Answer:  The pair work speaking activity, DRAW 'N' SHARE,  works beautifully to give learners a chance for introspection and high-order thinking skills.  In addition, learners can interact and get to know each other better.

Title:  Draw 'n' Share pair work speaking activity 

Level: All levels from B1

Age:  12+

Language & Skills focus: speaking and interacting,  intrapersonal intelligence, abstract thinking (using symbols), evaluating, making personal choice, self-expression, self-esteem, peer teaching and goal-setting.  Grammar focus:  Gerund constructions, e.g. "I'm good at..."   , "I like/don't like" and "I'd like to get better at" + gerund.  Extension:  listening , note-taking and sentence writing.

Materials:  You can prepare A4 sheets with two squares printed on them (1 per learner) to save some time.

In Class:

1.  Learners are asked to draw two boxes on a sheet of paper:  a  'plus' box and a 'minus' box. If the sheets have been prepared beforehand, you can pass them out once you have given the instructions with an example like the one below

 

Instructions:

"Think about the good points of your personality and behaviour as a language learner.  Are there the special ways you use to learn and remember new expressions?  How do you prepare before speaking or writing during a pair or group work activity?  What is your relationship with other learners in our classes?"

 

"Look at the examples.  In the Plus (+) Box, I've drawn a speech bubble because I'm good at speaking, especially when another person asks me good questions.  Also, the heart is because I love learning more and more English -- in fact, I love learning new words and expressions in many different foreign languages.  The 'explosion' is a symbol for the energy and zeal I have.  I like reading, listening to radio and watching films in English during my free time."

 

"In the Minus (-) Box,   there is a thought bubble, a cloud and a line pointing in one direction.  I'd like to be better at thinking clearly, especially before writing an essay.  I get confused and distracted easily --a bit 'cloudy in the head', so I'd like to improve my powers of concentration.  The arrow is for improving my decision-making."

2.  At this point, you can elicit from the learners some practices for effective language learning and some adjectives to describe an effective learner.

3. Ask the learners to draw three symbols in each of their two boxes: in the Plus Box,  symbols representing what their qualities are and, in the Minus Box, habits and characteristics they would like to improve or change. (Approx. Time: 2")

4. In pairs, learners take turns discussing their drawings and what aspects of their personality and study habits they represent.  As the teacher circulates, she can guide the pair work discussion by repeating the sentences she spoke in her example. (Approx. Time:3')  

5.  Report Back:  To lead the report back session, the teacher can ask the following questions:

"Tell me about a partner who spoke about how to memorize new words and expressions." 

"Did anyone talk about writing?  keep notebooks?  using the internet?"     (Approx. Time: 5').

 

Extension:  For a springboard into writing practice, now re-pair learners and ask them to listen to what their new partner has to share.  They can take notes as they listen.  At the report back, each can say one sentence about themselves and their partner.  Subsequently, they can write three simple sentences about their partner or, for intermediate level learners, they can write three comparative sentences, e.g. "John writes only the new vocabulary he wants to learn, while I copy all unknown words into a notebook."

Rationale:  The reasons for the drawing required in this activity is to accommodate those learners who find it easier to express themselves with a drawing than with words, to add variety to classroom activities and to move quickly to speaking and interacting.  Those who may balk at the idea of drawing can write words and phrases instead.  In a subtle way, learners become more aware of learning-to-learn strategies and are given ample opportunities to learn new strategies from each other. 

N.B. "Draw 'n' Share" can be used for the practice of a varying number of grammatical structures and lexical sets.  Following the same procedure as above, instead of focusing on my qualities as a language learner, learners can draw  'favorite foods/school subjects/animals/colours' and speak about why they like them to their partners.

 

Suzanne & Lilika

October 2018