Learners have a lot of questions about how they should learn a language, and often form their own answers, which we need to discuss. Many of these answers are not necessarily things you agree with, and discussion also gives you an opportunity to explain your beliefs about language learning and how this translates into what you ask learners to do in the class.
There are 25 different questions about classroom practices. The activity, for pre-intermediate and above, involves the learners choosing the questions they want answers to from the 25 available and then matching the questions to possible answers. This can be followed by general discussion.
Before the class, copy and cut up the questions and answers. Prepare enough for each small group of learners to have one set of questions and one set of answers.
1. Write Why do we do homework? on the board. Elicit ideas and discuss them briefly.
2. Put the class into small groups. Hand out the 25 questions and ask the learners to choose ten which they think are relevant to their class.
3. Ask each group to put the questions out on the table in front of them and then ask them to get up, circulate, and see which questions other groups have chosen.
4. Hand out the answers. Ask the learners to try to match the answers to the questions.
5. Again, get learners circulating to see other ideas, and then discuss the answers to the most useful questions in open class.
Note: You can guide discussion by selecting the questions you want learners to have instead of them choosing. This can be useful if there are specific issues you would like to discuss with your learners, e.g. group work and why you do it. However, you may find that the questions that you think are relevant to your class are not what the learners want to discuss, for example, you may think there are no issues around homework and they may feel very differently.
If you find learners respond to these activities and really start to give opinions, be ready to respond with the same candour and make sure you know why you do things the way you do them!
This activity was first published in 2007