English Conversation Lesson
This ESL pair work activity helps students learn English by developing speaking, listening and critical thinking skills. Students interact with a specific question and answer format that requires one student to process new information continuously. The objective is for one student to retell the story with accuracy and detail by asking the right kinds of questions.
- Level: high beginner and up
- Time: 10-20 minutes
- Resources: one short story, level appropriate for the students.
- Break students into pairs.
- Student A reads the story silently.
- Student B will ask questions.
- Instructions for Student A: Read the story. Answer questions truthfully but provide the minimum amount of information. Don’t provide extra details.
- Instructions for Student B: Learn as much information as possible about the story through specific questions. At the end of the question period, you will retell the story based on what you learn through your questions.
- Allow Student A 2-3 minutes to read the story.
- During that reading time, remind students of different questioning strategies: wh questions, yes/no questions.
- Allow about 10 minutes for questions and answers.
- After questioning, Student B retells the story. Students A listens and checks for accuracy.
- Ask one strong student to retell the story in front of the class.
- Praise effort and add missing critical information as required.
This short story – a Korean fable – has worked well for many years (156 words; scores 86% on the Flesch Reading Ease test; 4.4 on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score). Generally, stories with two or three characters and a simple plot that involves several actions works well.
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The image in this post comes from Sachin Sandhu and its use complies with the owner’s creative commons licensing terms.