Teacher Danilo came up with an idea which we executed together: We both had 4A groups and organized ourselves in a way in which we would have both our classes take the same lesson on the same day and decided to host a speed-friending event among our students.
The way we did it was to number them from 1 to 32 (total number of students – we printed the numbers and had students tape them to their clothes) and give them slips of paper with the questions suggested by the book, ones that people usually ask in such events. However, they were not told what the event was.
The eight questions suggested are:
1 – How do you like to spend your free time?
2 – What music are you listening to these days?
3 – What was your most valuable possession as a child?
4 – Can you say no to chocolate?
5 – When did you last stay out after midnight?
6 – Who’s your favorite celebrity?
7 – Have you ever won a prize or a contest?
8 – What word describes you best?
Students were told to go downstairs, where chairs had previously been arranged in two circles, facing one another. One group would sit in the inner circle and the other in the outer circle.
We gave each student four of the eight questions (the first four to my group and final four to Danilo’s group) and told them they would have two minutes to ask as many questions as possible, and take notes of the answers along with the number of the person who had answered them so they could keep track of who said what. After they finished, they went back to their classrooms and answered questions like “Do you think that was enough to get to know the people you talked to?”, “Who do you think you would like to talk more and maybe be friends with?”, “Have you ever imagined this type of event?” – only then would they be told what speed-friending is.
As students carried on with their conversations, we monitored and timed them. This activity worked well as it provided them with real-time interaction as they got into it and became more comfortable as time went by. Later, they all said what a fun day that was.
This lead-in activity introduced students to the concept of speed-friending and made for a much more interesting class as it got them excited and interested in the other exercises in the book, like when they were asked to come up with questions that they thought would be interesting to ask in such an event. That was a speaking exercise that really worked well and got them engaged into discussing the topic at hand.
All in all, students felt good with this unusual class and practiced and learned something different culture-wise.