I use this activity as a ‘get to know you’ with new classes and it can be adapted for any level. It can also serve as revision for question forms which I’ll come back to at the end. This idea originated from a development session I attended at IH ILC Brno and it has altered over time to become the activity below.

‘Get to know you’

I write the following on the right side of the board:

Answers

A: Newcastle B: London C: Madrid

A: Japan B: Czech Republic C: Brazil

A: 1 B:3 C:7

The students work in pairs or small groups to think of questions about me that could lead to these answers. I then ask for questions from the class for each set of answers and write them on the board. At this stage any logical, correctly worded questions are written down and I elicit corrections where necessary. If they don’t come up with the questions I’m looking for I start dropping hints.

During this activity I answer any questions they think of that are logical but that don’t fit my set of answers. This is a great opportunity for them to ask questions and the framework gives a bit of assistance to students who might otherwise be too shy to ask questions in front of a new teacher.

Questions

Answers

  • Where are you from?
  • Where were you born?
  • What’s your favourite city?
  • Where do your parents live?

A: Newcastle B: London C: Madrid

 

  • Where have you lived?
  • Where did you live last year?
  • Where do you want to go on holiday?
  • Where would you like to visit?

A: Japan B: Czech Republic C: Brazil

 

  • How many languages do you speak?
  • How many times a week do you watch TV?
  • How many brothers or sisters do you have?
  • How many children do you have?

A: 1 B:3 C:7

(Answers: A, B and A)

The table above shows what I’m looking for, with the questions in green showing questions the class contributed. Once they know the real questions I ask for their guesses and give them a bit of background information. This part shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes from start to finish.

Next I write a question from my perspective (this example is given to make it clear that in the next part questions should be written using ‘I’ not ‘you’).

How often do I drink tea?        A: Once a day B: Three times a day C: Never

The class guesses and they’re usually surprised that I’m an Englishman that doesn’t drink tea.

I then ask the students to each write three questions about themselves, including three options; A, B and C. They’re given complete freedom, but they’re told the questions shouldn’t be too easy. This activity allows extroverts to shine while introverts can be selective about what they reveal about themselves.

Then the students mingle, asking each other their questions in pairs (at intermediate level and above students are encouraged to ask follow up questions). Once they’ve finished, they sit back down they share what they’ve learned about each other in pairs.

The examples given above were used with intermediate to upper-intermediate students. With an elementary class I used simpler questions which were partially completed on the board.

  • What __ your ___?   A: Mike B: Sarah C: John
  • Where ___ you ____ ? A: Newcastle B: London C: Madrid
  • What ___ your _____ food? A: Cake B: Pizza C: Fish and chips

This activity could be used with any level provided you choose your questions carefully.

 

Question forms and further adaptation

This activity can be adapted to revise question forms. You give your students restrictions to ensure they follow a particular structure:

  • How many … ? How much … ? How often … ? How long … ?
  • What would I do if … ? What would I say if … ?
  • What do I prefer … ? What do I do … ?

This guides the students towards the target language and it remains personalised. You can then use the resulting questions for error correction and drilling. Here’s an example for questions in the present perfect with for and since:

  • How long have I been playing the piano?     A: for one year B: for two years C: for three months
  • How long … ?       A: for … B: for … C: for …
  • How long … ?       A: since … B: since … C: since …

You can then ask students to form questions to ask each other as a final mingle.

If the focus is on a grammar point, rather than as a ‘get to know you’ activity, students can generate quiz questions from some research rather than asking questions about themselves.

Example using the passive:

  • Who invented the ________ ? It was invented by A: ___ B:___ C: ___
  • When was ______ discovered? It was discovered in A: ___ B: ___ C: ___

 

Links

I have another activity designed for getting to know classes: “Is it true?”.

For more games and activities click here for the archive.

To be informed of new activities when they’re released you can follow the blog directly, ‘like’ the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.

The original idea came from a session by Pavla Milerski, whose tips and tricks make it into the lessons I teach on a daily basis.

Thanks for reading! As always let me know if you have any feedback.