Activity: Speed dating
For an explanation of speed dating, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_dating.
This activity has worked very well in my university level classes. In fact, Iâd say this activity results in the most oral production among students of any activity Iâve ever done. My experience with this activity has been that it has all students speaking very close to 100% English at the same time for up to 80 minutes (40 minutes for each of two 50 minute periods).
The activity is based on the relatively modern practice of speed dating. I generally start preparing the activity at least one week before the actual âspeed datingâ class. I start by having students read a couple of articles on speed dating followed by discussion. Hereâs how it breaks down:
Week one, possibly taking place over two weeks:
- Read articles on speed dating.
- Discuss the articles in groups.
- In preparation for the speed dating activity, get into groups and create a list of at least 5 discussion questions and/or conversation topics that you think would be suitable for a speed dating event.
- As a class, groups share their lists of questions and topics. Itâs good to end up with a list of between 15 to 20 questions.
Following week: The speed dating activity.
- The teacher has printed out the list of questions that the class previously brainstormed given each student a copy.
- The class splits into two equal groups of men and women. Typically, some females will have to be males or vice versa. My students have never minded and usually enjoy that element of the activity.
- Students do not have to be themselves, and my students always create multiple profiles for themselves. Again, this is a fun element of the activity. They often come up with their profiles on the fly.
- The teacher has arranged the class in such a way that pairs can sit together easily, and also so that people can easily get up and move to the next âdateâ.
- The teacher needs to do a little math and plan according to the class size and length of the period. For a 50-minute period with 20 students, or ten pairs, I generally plan on about 3 minutes per pair, and sometimes let them talk to almost 3 Â½ minutes. The speed dating activity begins.
- If this activity is suitable for your class culture and level, youâll find that students really get into it. After the first 50-minute period (of my 2-period classes), I have them take a good break, then for the second round I have them switch sexes, so all those who were male the first time around are now female and vice versa.
We do not do the whole speed dating routine as described in on-line articles. For example, students donât bother to mark down people they like, etc. I keep it quite simple. Still, it takes a fair bit of planning. Students do use the printed out questions when they canât think of anything to say, so Iâd say that element is crucial. This activity is a blast and students generally remark how tired their jaws and voices are by the end of the class.