I use a technique that I call “Questions” to have students learn chunks of new language. I like this method because students work in pairs and I see pair work as so much more useful than a lecture style class.
The technique starts when the teacher hands out a sheet of around fifteen personalized questions on a particular theme. Students are not to write on the list of questions. Instead, they take notes on a separate sheet of paper. The teacher assigns the students to answer the questions for themselves for homework.
- Students ask the teacher the questions and the teacher models answers. Students write down the teacher’s answers. During this step students may write down vocabulary, but may not write down their own answers.
- The next day in class, the teacher corrects the students’ answers as a group. The students look over their answers, then put them away.
- The students work in pairs from their desk cluster. One student asks and the other answers the questions. The one asking the questions may look at the list of questions, the other may not. The students then switch roles.
- The next day the students switch partners and do the asking yet again. We use “clock” partners or “where buddies” to assign partners.
- The third day, with yet another partner, have a speed round where students ask the questions out of order and the students answer in short answers. The idea is to do this quickly, but still speaking clearly.
- On the forth day, students do their last round to memorize the questions. One student reads an answer and the other gives the question.
- The students are assigned for homework to memorize the questions.
The students study all of the questions/answers from the sheet for about a week. Then on the day of the oral assessment, four students stand in front of the class. Before they start they must answer in unison, “De quoi parlez-vous?” with “Nous parlons de…” The four students have a conversation about the topic incorporating two questions from the Tactics sheet and answering two questions from the sheet. When all the students have met the requirements have them sit down and call up a new group.
The students are told that they should try their best to create a normal flow to the conversation. Within the entire class, questions can be repeated, but the question doesn’t count if asked in the same group. So students are required to know all of the answers to the questions because they don’t know what they’ll be asked and they have to know various questions (at least eight, in case other students in their group ask the same questions the student was intending to ask.)