This usually happens when a class member or some other source (teacher, encyclopedia, internet, etc.) possesses some information that other class members want to obtain. In instructional jargon, the existence of an information gap creates the necessity of information gathering and reporting on the findings.

Some of the most widely used communicative tasks are described below. No matter which one you choose, give novice-to-intermediate students enough time to "rehearse" the language before they perform in front of the class. As students work in pairs or groups, walk around the classroom and provide assistance as necessary.

Role play. Two to four students assume certain roles and engage in a conversation in accordance with their new identities.

Example: You (Student 1) are at a tourist information office in the HL country. You want to find out how to get to a popular tourist spot, so you ask what kind of public transportation is available, what are the times, prices, and discounts. One salesclerk (Student 2) has a train timetable and tries to provide you with the information you need, while his colleague (Student 3) thinks that buses are a better option and tries to convince you to take a bus. He/she has a bus leaflet for reference.

Versions of role play

  1. Give each participant a card describing his/her identity and role in the interaction. The students will then each act out their scripted roles in pairs, groups, and/or in front of the class. A "reporter" for each group may sum up the discussion for the class.
  2. Tell the class the situation you want them to act out. In groups of 3-4, students decide on their identities, jot down the main ideas for each role, and rehearse the conversation. Then they act it out in front of the class.
  3. Students collect authentic information pertaining to their roles and the situation in the HL country from the internet, travel agents, or travel books, and then use the information in the role play.

Reader's Theater. Students dramatize a prose excerpt they have read in class or as a homework assignment. The resulting mini-drama or skit could then be acted out - with or without props and costumes - in class or in a local HL community center, church, or restaurant, thus becoming a festive event.

Interview. Students interview one or several classmates or community members about a certain topic and then report the information gathered to the class. The questions for the interview can be established beforehand by the whole class, by group members, or by each individual carrying out the interview.

Survey. The whole class may decide on the subject and questions for the survey. Students administer the survey in or outside of class to one or several groups of people they have created the survey for - males/females, first/second generation immigrants, teenagers, grownups, seniors, etc. Students will work in groups to analyze the data for one particular group of people, will prepare a report, and present it to class. In a whole class discussion, students can compare the data for all the groups in the survey.

Problem solving. The teacher, students in the class, or a media source presents an issue that needs a solution. In groups of 3-4, students find a solution to the problem, then present their solution to the class.

Example: Maria and Thomas are new to this country. Thomas is an engineer and Maria is a college student in Los Angeles. They live in an HL community where they are surrounded by family and friends. However, Thomas does not earn much and drives a long way to work. Maria is happy. She attends a good university and likes her classes. After a while Thomas is offered a job in a smaller town. He will be better paid and will be able to walk to work. But there is no university in that town and no HL community. What should Maria and Thomas do - move out or continue to live in Los Angeles?

Discussion/debate. Students can take sides and debate controversial topics related to the HL country's policies, leaders, performers, television shows, newspaper editorials, current fads (pop music, dress, leisure time, etc.), etc.

Photo essay. Students working individually, in pairs, or groups gather information about an HL famous person (a writer, composer, painter, actor, politician, athlete, etc.) or event (historical, political, cultural, etc.), organize the facts and pictures in the form of a poster or leaflet, and make a presentation to the class.

Television show. The format of some television shows, e.g., Jeopardy, can be replicated in the HL class to foster communication and fun.

Submitted by Georgiana Galateanu, Dept. of Slavic Languages and Literatures, UCLA