Speed Dating as Vocabulary Review

Speed Dating
This fun and useful exercise really works well as a filler or after you've taught a number of lessons and want to check your students have learned the vocabulary taught - either the emerged lexis if you're a dogme teacher, or with items from textbook exercises.

If you're teaching a group of regular students who are coming back after a long break, this activity works as a nice warmer-upper.

Ask your students to write down 5 - 7 words that they've recently learned.   

Instruct them that they shouldn't write the explanations or translations on this paper/ phones/ laptops - however they should know these - so as they write, do allow them to use (e)dictionaries. 

If you've been working with a textbook, you can also get different students to go through different units. If you're working dogme, then get them to go through their notes.  If you've been working online, get them to browse through their blogs/flashcards/google.docs.

Set up the classroom's chairs like this:

Give students around 5 minutes to tell each other the meaning of the words they wrote down.   After this time (using a buzzer or bell), get your students to switch pairs/mini-groups.  

Continue doing this until each student has talked to a maximum number of other students.

Once you have your students back in the room/ back to the original classroom set up, ask each to tell you the most interesting word(s) they learned and to also create a sentence using this word.

On a nice day, it's really fun to do this activity outside/ in another area of your school/ courtyard or on rainy days in the hallway and obviously they can also do it while standing up!

Useful links related to this posting: 
What does it mean to know a word?
What do you do with emergent language?
Complicated Vocabulary, Make Cartoons!
Powerpointing me


Have you ever done this activity, how well did it work?   Have you got another variant or perhaps an extra suggestion to add - please don't hesitate to let us know your ideas on how to expand this.   If you like, don't hesitate to print this exercise out/email it and share it with colleagues- see the buttons below.

8 Responses to “Speed Dating as Vocabulary Review”

  • Victor Hugo Rojas B. says:
    August 28, 2011

    Keeping the language students have learnt from EFL courses is a bit long and complex in non-english speaking countries. However, there is a huge of teaching techniques and strategies we can use for checking and assessing our students vocabulary or grammar. I think that the exercise Karenne is sharing will work only if EFL teachers adapt/adequate it to our real context, considering our students learning styles and strategies. And the most important thing, taking into account the institutional and students goals.

  • althea says:
    August 28, 2011

    I've done a variation of this exercise. Instead of vocabulary though, students ask each other questions based on whatever we have been doing in class (Where do you do grocery shopping? What foods do you like to eat when you are sick? questions are always those that have come up in lessons...)

    Student stand, facing each other, and I give a signal when it's time to switch partners. Always a very popular drill, and one that makes us laugh.

    August 29, 2011

    Thanks Victor, those are all very good points to consider when doing this sort of activity.

    Hi Althea, Love this variant and looking forward to trying it out!


  • Mirjana says:
    August 30, 2011


    I love this activity and will definitely do it next week when my classes start. Thank you very much!

    I usually do a variation of this activity in September. Students stand facing each other and they start talking i.e. switch partners after the signal. If they know each other then the question is usually about the summer holiday. However, if they don't know each other then the task is to learn as much as possible about everyone.
    The feedback is always lots of fun and a good laugh :-).

    August 30, 2011

    Thanks Mirjana, I love your variation!

  • Mel says:
    August 31, 2011

    I use this activity a lot as a fun needs analysis before doing a spotlight on a particular business skill. I can then pick up on the answers during the spotlight, and the students also know what their colleagues need from the ensuing activity. An added bonus is that it is a good getting to know you task which promptes fluency.

    August 31, 2011

    Hi Mel, that is such a good idea to use it as a needs-analysis exercise. Am going to rob that idea and do it in my next new class.

  • Sharon says:
    December 03, 2011

    Thanks for the great idea. I pair students in my class, but they usually end up working with the same person all semestre.


Visitors and Regular Readers


FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

Communities of Practice

Directories, catalogs and Back Links

Adult Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory Add to Technorati Favorites

The EFL ESL Blog List TotalESL.com - ESL/EFL/TEFL Teaching Jobs and Teacher Resumes

International Blogging Directory

Recent Posts

Simply Conversations

Pedagogically sound materials designed to get your students actively talking:

Free Samples
Conversation Control

General English
Business English

Learn more on why these work