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How to create an online communicative activity in minutes?

When teaching English in today’s classrooms, our task is to create engaging activities to promote collaboration among our students but, most importantly, promote communication. Through communicative activities our students can use the language in prompted or real-world situations, allowing them to continuously improve their overall usage. Even the shyest students can become empowered when we use just the right activities and tools. 

In this short post, we’re going to give you some ideas on how to create an online communicative activity in just a few minutes. Let’s jump right in. 

What makes an activity communicative?

There are many different definitions but in short it’s when the activities encourage and require students to speak and listen to others. This includes any activity that promotes real-world interactions such as tasks like finding information, learning about or teaching a topic, or exchanging ideas and opinions on specific topics of interest. 

For these activities to be more effective, remember to keep teacher talking time to a minimum, trust students’ knowledge and capabilities but above all have fun! There are many types of activities that provide opportunities for students to interact and communicate during your lessons. Here are a few ideas: 

    • Surveys
    • Dialogues
    • Conversation grids
    • Information gaps
    • Games
    • Experience-sharing 

How to create a communicative activity online? 

By using some of the existing online tools, we can create virtual spaces that will allow students to communicate online with similar activities as we would have for in-person lessons. Here are some considerations to keep in mind: 

  • Identify the main elements of the communicative activity. First of all, you should be able to take the in-person activity and identify the main elements that make it communicative, and determine which ones you’d like to transfer to an online setting. 
  • Adapt the elements to an online setting. Once you’ve identified these elements, decide which ones would work best for your online classroom. For example, if it’s a conversation grid, this could work by simply sharing an image of the grid with your students and having them work in pairs to complete the task. Before determining the type of digital resources and tools you’re going to use, ask yourself the important questions: How can I create the digital version of the task? How can I share it? How can I make it accessible to all students? How can I ensure all of my students have the possibility of participating? Will the activity be synchronous or asynchronous? How can I track my students’ participation and performance throughout the activity? How can I guide adn support learners during the activity in real time?  
  • Use the right tool, depending on the interaction patterns. Some tools may be more useful than others depending on the interaction patterns you chose for the communicative activity. In some cases, where you want students to work in pairs, any videoconferencing tool with breakout rooms will work just fine. In other cases, you may want to explore whole-group communicative tasks and instead some other tools may be the right fit. 

Recommended communicative tools 

  • thursday This is a one-click and no login tool that gets students connected easily. Once you’re set up, you can use one of the four options: Lounge, Doodle race, Would you rather, or Trivia. Any of these could prompt communicative activities and motivate students to participate actively and engage in meaningful interactions with the whole group. For a whole group communicative activity, try this:

Step 1: Share the link with students so they can connect. 

Step 2: As the teacher, you can join the stage and guide your students by starting in the lounge. You can kick things off with a short task like asking everyone to write one word that describes their mood today. 

Step 3: Get students to participate by using one of the available Mixers or an activity that you’ve prepared. 

Step 4: Students can participate with text messages, emojis or can join you on the stage. 


  • The Online Fishbowl Tool This is a great tool to get students to listen and chime in when they are ready. The teacher can get started with an introduction to guide students through the activity and then students can join in by taking an available seat. You can only have five people on camera at a time, although everyone else is always listening. 

Don’t forget that any videoconferencing tool can be used to promote communication and interaction as long as you adapt the elements correctly. You could even use WhatsApp! 


Share your ideas for teaching communicative lessons online in the comments. 




Using Pear Deck to promote engagement in remote teaching

In our ELT Lounge held on April 29, we explored how to use Pear Deck and found out how we could make the most of it for our current emergency remote teaching circumstances. Here you’ll find the video of our session, but we’d also like to share with you some additional tips for using Pear Deck.

Tip # 1: Use the Google Slide Add-on (Recommended)

Especially if you are using Google Drive and Google Classroom with your students, it’ll really save you some time when creating your lessons. Find out how to get the add-on here.

Great for saving and recycling your lessons. 

Tip #2: Use the student-paced lessons

You can organize your slides so that students can work through the slides and interact with them with a deadline. You can track their progress through Pear Deck and when you’re finished you can get the results and export the Takeaways (students’ results are saved as individual Google Docs in a Google Drive folder).  

Tip #3: Add audios to slides

When sharing the slides for student-paced activities, adding audio will definitely change your students’ experience while completing the activity. You can easily add audio to your slides to prompt your students, offer instructions, or even just motivate them. Learn how to add the audios here.

Tip #4: Use Pear Deck for remote learning

During this pandemic. It has become even more essential for us teachers to find tools that offer options when teaching remotely and Pear Deck stands the test. It allows you to teach in live sessions, in student-paced lessons and they even offer ideas to use it for remote learning. Check out the video to find out more about How to teach a remote lesson with Pear Deck.

We have our ELT Lounge the first and third Wednesday of every month. Be sure to sign up for our next ELT Lounge