Obviousness

Method:

1. SS work in pairs. One of them pretends to be an alien who knows nothing about Earth and the people who live there. They discuss a given topic, e.g. Sport, or Food and Drink. The ‘alien’ asks many obvious questions and the other SS has to answer in as much detail as possible, describing everything that the alien wants to know. The alien could ask the following questions, as repetitively as possible:

  • What does x mean?
  • What is x?
  • Why?
  • Who is x?
  • Why do they…?
  • Do you…?

…and so on. It is the alien’s job to push the other SS to produce spoken English – which is the goal of this activity. T monitors, checks, and corrects, maybe making note of errors, which can be explored briefly on the board towards the end of the session.

2. After a short time, SS change roles and start again – either with a different aspect of the same topic, or a new topic.

3. Whole group version: one SS is the alien and the others have 20 seconds each (or longer) to answer their questions. Or, one SS is a ‘normal’ person and the rest are aliens, who have 20 seconds each (or longer) to try to get answers to their (many) questions about this strange new planet. This can be very funny with SS enjoying role playing in front of the whole group.

4. T asks SS what they have learned from this activity. Optional: T outlines grammar, usage, and
pronunciation errors with the whole class and elicits corrections.

Tips:

  • This is a good activity to use at the beginning of a lesson. It gets SS thinking about a topic and will hopefully activate most or all of the target vocabulary in a natural way.
  • Variation #1: instead of being an alien, the questioner could be an inquisitive toddler who loves to ask “Why?” to whatever has been said. Of course, the aim is still to get the other person talking!
  • Variation #2: SS could play this game in pairs as a card game, using the cards on p.123. One SS is the alien while the other describes things. The alien does not need to speak, just point at one of the cards. (SS could even practise with these cards on their own, if they are motivated enough. They just shuffle the cards, begin speaking about a topic, then when there is a pause, turn over the next card and follow the instructions. They could record their work for T or other SS to mark and give feedback.)
  • See also You Are The Course Book 2: In Practice, pp.158-159. 176.

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