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:
- Conversation grids
- Information gaps
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!