Top Five Activities that Work!

Engaging Students in the Three Modes of Communication

Interpretive Communication

1. TPR Anything!
2. Karuta Slap the Card Game
Pairs or groups of three get a set of flashcards with words, pictures, or even sentences on them. The teacher yells out a word or sentence and the first student to slap the correct card gets to keep it. For ties, have them do rock, paper, scissors, or other culturally appropriate hand game (or coin toss). When there are only two cards left, tell students that you might trick them by saying a wrong word. If they slap for a completely wrong word, they are out. At the end, the student with the most cards wins.

3. Walk-Around Reading and Writing

4. Teacher-Created Listening (from

PowerPoint for Happy Man Listening that you can modify if you like.

5. Extended Listening or Reading: For a list of resources for authentic materials, see our Links for Instruction page.
Foriegn Language Educator's of New Jersey: Thematically Organized Assessment Tasks are here. Excellent examples of assessments and units that all teachers can access.

Technology Helps! To post your narrated PowerPoints on the internet. To record what is happening on your desktop (even if you are going through a PowerPoint) as a movie for hte internet. See examples of things we have made with Jing at

Interpersonal Communication

1. Vocabulary-in-the-Bag
This works great for vocabulary recall once students know the words pretty well (mid-unit). It is MUCH more authentic and interesting than just showing pictures or items and asking students to say what they are. For whatever unit you are working on, put all of your flashcards or realia items in a themed bag, box, or even a folder with the theme written on the front. For example, put all of the classroom objects you have been learning inside a backpack. Take one item out to show students what you are doing. Then, ask students " what else is in here?" You'll be surprised how many students enjoy this activity, raising their hands to name the items. Take out the item after the students say them.

2. Walk-around numbered room
  • half the class doesn’t move, half does
  • partners move together
3. Musical partners

4. Information gap
5. Oral Language Builder Game
Teacher can use PowerPoint slides, a blank book, or any photos. Divide the class into two teams.
Use the first slide as your modeling slide, giving points to both sides as they tell you everything they can about the picture they see. Use a timer to give the teams 30 seconds to come up with as many vocabulary words or statements about the picture as they can. After 30 seconds, Team A has the first chance to answer. The teacher awards 1-4 points for answers (add more points for sentences, versus just words). When the Team A has “exhausted” their answers, the Team B can say anything the first team missed. Teams take turns having the first chance to give answers. I use bingo chips and cups on two desks for points. For older students, you can say that if Team B says any answers that have already been said, you will take points OUT of their cup.

Presentational Communication

1. Introduce Yourself!
Voki Classroom (Note: Voki Classroom is not free.)
Great examples of VoiceThread in use. (Note: VoiceThread is not free.)
Introduce yourself as a completely new animal that you create at switchzoo.

2. Write and perform a poem, song, or rap!
List of poetry types that students can create is here.
The Index of International Poetry Sites is here.
Amazing cognate poems here.
Find a large collection of Spanish poetry here: Find a lesson plan and list of websites for French poetry here: Find Italian poetry here:

3. Create a commercial or advertising campaign

4. Write a description for others to read

5. Create a comic strip! (MANGA)
Make a comic strip!