Looking for some fresh ideas for how to get your students engaging in communication with one another in the classroom? Pair work activities are a wonderful way to mimic everyday life interactions, improve listening and speaking skills, build connections between students, and inspire confidence to engage with others. We have sourced relevant prompts, discussion topics, and strategies to help you successfully implement pair speaking activities and games in your classroom. Read through our top 20 ideas and try some with your class today!
1. Think-Pair-Share Technique: Reading
This Think-Pair-Share (TPS) strategy consists of presenting a topic or question, splitting students into pairs to discuss, and then opening the conversation up for the whole class to weigh in. A fun way to incorporate this into your lesson is to ask questions about an assigned book. That way they can expand their comprehension of the content and share their ideas.
Learn More: Reading Rockets
2. Personal Questions
A great way to facilitate a discussion activity in pairs is to provide examples of personal questions that students want to answer. We all have opinions and ideas to share, so think of some open-ended questions for your pairs to converse about.
“Where would you go….”
“If you could meet….”
Learn More: Differentiated Teaching
3. A Picture Says a Thousand Words
Sometimes all you need is an image to inspire your entire class to weigh in. Find a picture or two, project it on the screen, and ask your students to discuss it in pairs. After some time, you can ask the pairs to share what they thought with the rest of the class.
Learn More: The New York Times
4. Analyzing and Describing Graphs
In a science, economics, or experimental class, students may encounter graphs and charts that they must examine and explain. Choose some relevant graphs and give one to each pair to look over and discuss together.
Learn More: Academic English
5. Role Play: Interview with Celebrity
A classroom activity that is sure to get your school students talking is an interview activity! There are so many creative scenarios you can organize based on your student’s interests and learning goals. One role-play technique asks pairs to choose a celebrity they both know, come up with interview questions, and act out a real-life interview in front of the class.
Learn More: ESL Flow
6. Speed Dating
Here is an interactive activity that encourages the development of student’s interests, confidence, and communication skills. To begin, ask the class to write about a topic of interest for 5 minutes. Then, put students in pairs and have them talk for 10 minutes. Afterward, you can either switch partners and repeat or ask each pair to recount their partner’s topic to assess their listening skills.
Learn More: David’s ESOL Blog
7. Ted Talk Videos and Discussion
There are so many inspiring Ted Talks available for student involvement and analysis of real-life concerns and issues. Provide a list of classroom-friendly talks and have pairs choose one to watch, analyze, and then discuss with the class.
Learn More: Engaging and Effective
8. Missing Dialogue
In this reading and speaking gap activity, present each pair of students with a dialogue to read aloud. Each time they go through the dialogue, the teacher will replace their script with one that is missing words. Students must focus and work together to fill in the absent information since each time they receive a script, more words are missing.
Learn More: English Teaching 101
This free application allows teachers to facilitate online interactive activities that improve students’ communication skills in a simple and user-friendly technique. Create an account with your conversation class and present video discussion topics today!
Learn More: Ditch That Textbook
10. Dubbing Audio Over Videos
This class activity is sure to evoke tons of giggles while improving students’ speaking skills and creative thinking. Choose a video clip with no audio for each pair of students. Have them watch and improvise the speaking parts to mimic real-life communication and humor.
Learn More: Melchor Bernardo
11. Guess Who
This beloved game splits students into pairs and gives each person a card with a character on it. Using the think-pair-share strategy, each student describes their person and their partner must then guess who they may be. Once all the students guess correctly the pairs will share with the class.
Learn More: JIMMYESL
12. Describe and Draw
In pairs, one student will be given a picture that they must hide from their partner. As they look at the image, they will try to describe the image as accurately as possible while their partner draws.
Learn More: Edutopia
13. Alternative Endings
I know your students will love this cooperative activity by sharing a book or movie that they love with their classmates. Have students pair up based on media content that they enjoy. The goal is for them to come up with a new ending to a story and present it to the class.
Learn More: Twinkl
14. How it Got its Name
This is for all the creative students who want to think critically and brainstorm together. Split the class into pairs and assign each a common item (toilet, balcony, sneakers) for which they must analyze its name origins. Each pair will provide answers to the question and also provide alternative name possibilities which are either serious or humorous!
Learn More: Planet Spark
15. Debate in Pairs: The Secret Jar
This critical thinking game begins with the teacher writing a debate topic on the board. Each student gets a piece of paper to write a short opinion about the topic, fold it, and then place it in the secret jar. One student at a time will take a classmate’s paper from the jar and read it aloud, before assigning another student to respond to the point. This pair will have a short debate and then another pair will choose a paper.
Learn More: ELT Connect
16. Boxing Match Debates
To increase student involvement in your lessons, infuse a bit of friendly competition! Debate is a wonderful tool for critical thinking, learning effective strategies to discuss challenging topics, and expanding oral communication skills. This game splits students into pairs and gives each an issue to debate. The “boxing” fun comes in as each side presents a solid argument (throws a punch) and the other side responds (blocks or gets hit)!
Learn More: Class Tools
17. Would You Rather?
This popular game can be used in many ways; as an ice breaker, for speaking skills practice, or to encourage shy students to open up. Write down pairs of “would you rather…” questions, split students into pairs, and listen to answers and reasoning from students.
Learn More: ESL Speaking
18. Quick Change Questions Game
Looking to diversify your students’ interaction circles in the classroom? This “quick change” question game splits students into pairs (student A and student B). The pairs are given a question to both ask and answer within a time limit. When the time is up, student A gets up and finds a new student B, and the process begins again.
Learn More: AC English Teacher
19. Brainstorming Map
Encouragement of student creativity and sharing will bring out some amazing and innovative ideas when students feel safe to express their thoughts. A brainstorming map asks students to choose a topic with their partner and then create a visual map of connected ideas. After some time the pairs can change and expand both the map and their perspectives on the topic.
Learn More: Steemit
20. Telephone Role Play
There are so many role-play techniques that improve English speaking skills. This telephone game can help your learners rehearse general phone conversations or you can provide the pairs with prompts for scenarios. Some example ideas include: expressing a complaint, making plans with a friend, and engaging in a job interview.
Learn More: Busy Teacher