Category Archives: Interpersonal Activities

More Core Practice Number Two

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Core Practice #2: Design and Carry Out Interpersonal Communication Tasks for Pair, Small Groups, and Whole-Class Instruction

Interpersonal communication is two way communication negotiated between two or more people.  It takes place face to face or over the phone.  It also occurs in writing through notes, e-mail, and social media.  It is spontaneous, not scripted or memorized.


When designing interpersonal activites for students there needs to be an information gap.  One person seeks information that another speaker has.  Students need to listen to one another to complete the task and they can not know ahead of time how the other students are going to answer.  They also need specific language and strategies to negotiate meaning.  Students should do something with the information they obtain.  For example they could use the information in a whole class discussion or presentational task like an advertisement or brochure.


One example could be students surveying their classmates for leisure time activities, using the information to report out most and least popular activities, in order to prepare to interview a native speaker about their favorite activities.

Create a list of helpful phrases in the target language you teach that would be appropriate for students at a particular level to use during their interpersonal activities.  Some possible examples are: wait a minute…by the way…let me think…excuse-me..  Post signs around room including: How do you say?  How do you write?  Change after they are acquired.

Create situation cards so students can practice spontaneous interpersonal communication.  Here is an example.  These situations are on separate cards or pieces of paper so that each student sees only his or her role.


You call a good friend  students and invite him/her to go out to do something with you (e.g., see a movie, have dinner, go to the gym, or something else). Make the call and make small talk first. Then make the invitation. You will have to figure out together the details (such as the day, time, where you meet, etc.). Ask questions so that you are clear on the plans. After you end the call, be prepared to tell your roommate what the plan is.


You receive  a call from a good friend inviting you to do something. Answer the phone and listen carefully to what he or she says. You will need to ask questions to decide how to respond.  Also you will need to keep in mind what’s currently on your calendar as you discuss the invitation. After you end the call, be prepared to tell your roommate about it.

Follow up with information gained by telling your roommates about your plans so they will know where you are and when.

I have created some slides to practice spontaneous interpersonal communication in French and Spanish on the Teachers Pay Teachers website called  Timed- Think-Talk.



Here are some other Activities for interpersonal communication.

Assessing interpersonal communication with Talk Scores.  This is an uncomplicated way to assess students during interpersonal speaking activities.  Each letter of the word talk represents one performance objective to be observed during pair or small group tasks.  During the task the teacher should observe only one objective to observe.  The goal should be that after one or two weeks students have been observed on all four objectives which would be a round and a score can be recorded.

  1. Is the student talking in the target language?
  2. Is the student performing at acceptable level of accuracy?
  3. is the student on task and listening to partner?
  4. Is the student kind and cooperative?

For each objective score with either a plus, check , or minus.  A plus is 2 points, a check is 1 point, and a minus is 0 points.  After a round add up the points for the Talk score.  Here is an example of TALK SCORES.  Here is the record sheet I use. Talk Scores Record Sheet

Another great idea to practice intepersonal communication is Chat Stations.  Watch the video by Cult of Pedagogy.

Creating Classroom Connections

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One of my favorite activities for the beginning of the year is to learn every student’s name and hobby.  I have students make a list of their 10 favorite things to do in life.  They make the list in English at first and then it gets translated into the target language.  

I start with one student and ask them what they like to do and they tell me the first thing on their list.  I ask how many other people have that activity on their list of ten.  If they have it on their list they raise their hand.  I count the number of kids and we graph the data.

This is a great way to connect to math and gives the kids something to do while listening to me count and repeat the hobbies over and over again.  I am also purposely making connections between students with similar hobbies and interests.  I go around the room, one student at a time, asking their name and favorite thing to do and then poll the class to see if they have that activity on their list.  If a student’s favorite hobby has already been graphed, they can choose any activity on their list that has not been mentioned yet.  I continually go back to the first student and say their name and hobby and continue around the room until I can say every child’s name and hobby from memory.  The kids are impressed that I can do it and then they realize they can do it too.

For one of our first quizzes of the year I can say number one and point to a student.  They write down their name and hobby in the target language and we continue until all students have been listed.

Another way I create classroom connections is with a recipe file holder and index cards.  An entry task on the first day of school is to write your name on an index card and list 3 facts about yourself.  I collect these cards and put a rubber band around the class set and store them in a recipe file on my desk.


Each day I pick an interesting fact from someone’s card and read it to the class. For example it might say “I have been to Hawaii.”  I say anyone who has been to Hawaii stand up.  Everyone who has been to Hawaii stands up and we make connections around the room.  I can ask follow up questions like which island, with whom, what did you do?  I can say anyone who wants to go to Hawaii stand up.  Then have everyone sit down and pick another card.  I purposely look for things that I think a lot of people have in common, point out the connections, and look for opportunities for spontaneous interpersonal communication.   I do a few each day until I have used a statement from everyone at least once.  I also use these cards to randomly call on kids or form groups, like Popsicle sticks, but cheaper and easier to store for five classes.

Another way to make connections is the game I call Te presento a in Spanish and Je te présente in French.  Have the students make a name tag and stand in a circle.  I start in the middle.   I say Je te présente and say a student’s name.  The students on either side of the named child race to wave and say “Bonjour” to the other child.  The slowest of the two moves to the center of the circle and becomes the next caller.  This forces kids to listen for the names of the kids on either side of them.  After a few minutes have everyone find a new spot so they are next to different people and listening for other names.

When I was in high school I won a scholarship to a Dale Carnegie Course on Public Speaking and Human Relations from Junior Achievement.  This course was life changing for me.  In particular, I have always remembered these quotes.



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A great activity for spontaneous interpersonal communication is a Timed-Think-Talk.  Students are given a minute to write down thoughts and words about a topic on a sticky note. I provide them with sentence frames and vocabulary to get them started and then I remove the scaffolding and they talk with a partner for a minute about the topic.

I use the free or set the transition time on the slideshow to keep things moving along.

Don’t forget to add in the rejoinders to keep the conversation going. I tell students they have to talk for the whole minute, that’s only thirty seconds each, even if they just say random words or count after they exhaust the topic.

I use a structured interaction like Speed Dating, Inside-Outside Circles, or Stand up, Hand up, Pair, Share to match students, and change partners after a couple of topics.

Collect the sticky notes for a Gallery walk.  After every two or three questions change partners and have students put their sticky notes on a piece of butcher paper under the appropriate topic. Students can then do a gallery walk to see other student’s opinions and levels of proficiency.  Students can summarize class attitudes toward a particular topic.

Make your own Think and Talk slide or check out the ones I created in French called Pensez-Parlez and in Spanish called Pensar y Hablar.  It’s about asking more open ended questions so kids have more opportunities to level up!


Word Ladders in World Language

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I just discovered the website for making free graphics and have lost the past two days of my President’s day weekend.  I was interested in creating word ladders to help my students with interpersonal communication tasks.  These can be made into posters, added to presentations, kept in student notebooks, stored on rings on hooks in the room, turned into literacy mats, or for my current purpose, use at a chat station.

Here are a couple I created for expressing likes and dislikes.





You can télécharger your own pictures, use one of their themes, or just choose from lots of colors.

Here are some ladders for frequency.  I decided printing them on a white background takes up less ink, and if you use black or grey you can print them at school without your husband screaming at you again for using all the colored printer ink at home.I

I am also going to use this website for inspirational quotes at school and at home!  Better yet, I am going to have students create word ladders on different topics and post them to my padlet page.  My students have chromebooks so this is going to be a create station, create a meme, quote, or word ladder and share with class on

Global Goals: From Class Objects to Service Learning Projects!

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It’s time to elevate my school unit from class objects, subjects, and classroom commands, to cultural comparisons, connections, and community service. Of course I still have to teach class objects, subjects, and commands, so I like to start with songs, children’s books, and comprehensible input activities.  Our opening routine includes the song of the week.  Here are a couple of class object songs I like, Mon Sac à Dos for French and La Mochila for Spanish.

Next, I do a Backpack Demo.  I have a backpack with all kinds of class objects and other crazy things that I pull out one at a time and describe.  Some items I like to include are: a giant pen from Barcelona, a giant pencil and eraser, a real apple, toy desk and chair, keys, books, a computer, a calculator, a student, a flag, a social studies teacher, a picture of Antonio Banderas, the ear of Van Gogh, and a heart from  Senorwooly’s Ya Está Muerto song.  Novelty adds to the fun and surprise.  I then put everything back in the backpack one by one and have the students list as many items as they can remember. After a couple of minutes, have them compare their list with a partner. They score two points if they can name an item in the target language and one point if they can name it in English (to be translated later for homework.)  This can also be done with a suitcase of clothing and accessories, sports bag, grocery bag, or a mystery box.

Coloring is relaxing. My students always enjoy a directed color listening activity.  Create a coloring paper with pictures of several class objects.  I talk about each object in the target language and have students color certain parts or add items to the pictures. Students cut apart these pictures and use them in partner activities. For example, pass out a copy of a backpack and give items that do and do not go in a backpack.  Have students take turns saying are you bringing a pen? Yes, I’m bringing it. Are you bring an ice cream cone? No, I’m not bringing it.  Write the correct response on the back of each item ahead of time so students can self check.

A great way to get students up and moving and outside on a sunny day is a backpack relay.  Collect five old backpacks from the lost and found and gather five of each item to be practiced.  Put one of each item in each backpack.  I dictate a list of about 12 items to all students.  Divide students into five teams.  One student from each team is at one end of the space with the backpack and items, the seller. The other team members, the customers, are lined up opposite their seller and when I say go they must run down and say “I would like to buy a _____” (the first item on the list.) The seller hands them the item saying a_____ here you go, you could also include a price and some fake euros.  The runner thanks them and runs back to his team and the next person runs down and asks for the next item and so on until all items are bought.

What’s in your backpack is a great  partner activity that can be adapted to any vocabulary.  Have students draw and label five items in their backpack from a list of vocabulary provided without showing anyone.  Match them up with a partner and they take turns trying to guess what each other’s five items are.   After that, have students report out: in my backpack there is… in his backpack there was… in our backpacks there are….we did not have. This activity can be done with lunch bags, bedrooms, houses, suitcases, shopping bags, and hobbies. Do a google search for backpack coloring pages and you will find several to choose from.

There are some great authentic resources and ideas for class objects in Spanish from Zachary Jones.  Students add up how much the items on the back to school list, from the Secretary of Public Education in Mexico, cost for each grade and compare to cost of students in other countries.

To take the school supply list to a higher level, using authentic resources, you need to see this post at PBL in the target language by@sraSpanglish.  Her classes have this awesome unit on selecting and sending supplies to Colombia.  This got me thinking, I have a connection in Haiti for my French students to send supplies including some of our favorite children’s books and original creations!

For a closure activity have the students popcorn down naming one class object. To popcorn down, have all students stand up.  They all need to say one item and sit down.  The key is that no one can say any item twice and two people may not talk at the same time.  If two people do speak at the same time, or someone repeats an item already mentioned, everyone must stand and start over again.  It forces them to listen to each other and watch each other.  Do not let them try to organize and go in a circle. They have to randomly popcorn down.  It is a great way to sneak in lots of repetitions.