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>By Karen Stanley – Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

– provide a list of interview questions, and have students use them to interview each other; better still, have the class generate questions (with your guidance) on a particular topic, and have the students interview each other using them (one example theme: questions related to the person’s carbon footprint). Make sure they don’t think they have to write complete sentences with the answer to each question – in fact, they don’t necessarily have to record the answer at all. Otherwise, they spend more time writing than talking.

– find a problem to solve in small group discussion; George Rooks’ “Who gets the heart?” is a classic example. The students are given a list of different people with different characteristics, all of whom need a heart transplant. They then have to agree on how to prioritize who gets a heart. So, on the list you have someone in his 90s who is a national hero (but probably won’t live long), a child who may or may not ever do anything of benefit (but who has a long potential life ahead of him/her), a woman in her mid 20s with not such a good lifestyle, but who has no relatives to take care of her three young children if she dies, etc. I recommend all three of George Rooks’ books. He provides limitations and details for each task.

Let’s Start Talking (lowest level; simpler, more practical tasks, such as planning a party)

Can’t Stop Talking (intermediate; example tasks: planning a travel brochure, deciding which person should get a Citizenship Award )

The Non-Stop Discussion Workbook (advanced; example tasks: Who Gets the Heart, Design a Product and an Advertising Campaign)

Other possible lesson plans from posts to this list can be found at:



  1. >Insightful, practical, and detailed suggestions for both activities and textbooks! Problem-solution and process assignments work on all levels – even the most basic. I would also strongly recommend videotaping short student presentations, posting the recordings on a class website for self and peer evaluations. Sometimes, seeing and hearing is believing as students recognize their “good mistakes”. Finally, I also allow students to use their cell phones to record their presentations too when other recording options are unavailable.

  2. >Thanks for this. This is an excellent blog, and is inspiring to me as I’m starting my own blog about TEFL at TEFLsphere.blogspot.comAnd I agree – “good mistakes” are key.

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