IELTS: identifying attitudes and opinions

Another ‘making things up as I go along’. This time in my IELTS Teens class.

Topic: Environment and the natural world

Context: We’d just done some vocabulary review / building activities. We’d also dipped into the book for some listening practice – a few activities on ‘identifying attitudes/opinions’. So, we had tonnes of new vocab, plus loads of phrases in a table like this…

Cue Teacher Pete’s random fluency practice, with the aim(s) of developing students’ ability to…

  • think on their feet
  • see things from different perspectives (whether they agree or not!)
  • justify opinions
  • wake up a bit after coursebook activities

Task setup

Give every student 4 slips of paper. They write one statement related to the environment (or whatever topic) on each piece of paper. They can be serious, humorous, totally random, up to you. Depends what you think will work. Random always works with my students. Example sentences with some of our review/new language were…

Here’s the twist…

Students pass their 4 statements to someone else, but face down so they can’t read them. The person receiving the cards must write one of the following prompts on the back of each card:

Because they can’t read the statements, they don’t know what statements they are asking others to agree with, disagree with, etc.

Students then work with a random partner (or just mingle). They read each statement to their partner. As they do, they hold the statement card up, which instructs their partner to react in a certain way (and practice the target phrases). Example:

Student A reads: Cats can stop global warming

Student B listens. On the back of Student A’s card they see ‘show agreement’. They must agree, and justify why…

Sometimes, you get a simple, predictable sentence with a straightforward matching prompt. Other times, well, you have to justify how cats can stop global warming… ha. Why not?

The best part is the ‘show confusion’ response, because this means Student A has to clarify or elaborate on their statement:

Student A: Cats can stop global warming

Student B: Sorry, I’m not sure I follow you…

Student A: Er… well …

LOL!

Did it work?

  • Incongruity… there’s no problem with that sometimes
  • It helped learners practice the target phrases, and use some of our new terms related to the environment. The phrases were initially part of a listening practice, but this brought them to life a bit. There was genuine engagement and a lot of giggles
  • 14 and 15-year-old teens? IELTS? 4 hours? Yep, you need this type of thing sometimes!

Believe me, it was better than it sounds now I’ve written it down!

Feature image: Arne Mulder, freeimages

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