Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Speed Dating

Here are my students during their most recent speed dating class

Speed dating is not a new trick for teachers. I used to use it a lot for class warm ups or bell ringers. The assignment varies a bit, but essentially, students talk and listen to a partner for a set period of time, then they switch partners and repeat.

Types of Assignments
This works well for grammar or vocabulary practice. These can be the same story thing and over, or you can give each partner a card with a different question. For example, I could have each students give a mini biography of themselves to practice  simple past tense: I grew up in San Diego, I went to Santa Sophia Academy, etc. Or, I could have each student have a question that they ask their partner. Some may ask about family, others about travels, etc.

In the picture above my Speech students are working on practicing their historical speeches (students were each given a speech to memorize and present to the class) Since they didn't need to write a speech, they could focus on tone, gestures, volume, etc This was a great way to have a lot of them practice to new listeners rather than listen to the same speech over and over.


It is different! Some students may get nervous when they see the new seats (even if they knew it was coming), but in the end something new is good for their neurons and their interest in the class.

It is rather hands off. As a teacher I can walk around and watch almost all of the students. They require very little interaction from me.

It is fast paced. Students don't get bored. They are always on the move.

For the most part this can be adapted to any number, but on occasion I have an assignment where I need it to work with an even number. In this case, I put a desk in the middle and have a student practice on their own, or work on a reflection. In one case I used it as a chance to have quick mini-conferences with that student.

It doesn't lend itself to an "in-n-out" class. By that I mean, if you have students who are coming in late, or being pulled out in the middle of your class it really messes up the flow of class. Try to keep this for a day that you think things will run pretty smoothly.

Tips and Tricks
Have fun with it! Before starting have students sit in front of the class and play "charades." Have them pick dating faux pas like texting on a date, talking over your date, falling asleep on your date, not making eye contact, etc. Include some positive things as well: leaning forward, smiling, nodding your head, etc. Students will love watching one another ham it up in front of the class, and you'll be able to have good behaviors modeled and encouraged.

Give the listener a reason to listen. Either let them know that they will be telling about what they hear, they will be tested on it, or they will need to evaluate their partners. Something to keep them accountable. Real speed dates usually end with people turning in requests for dates, so why not have your students turn in whether or not they'd want to hear the speech again with a quick reason why.

I set up the tables before the students arrive. I put two different colors of tape on the board with numbers with a note to grab a number and sit in the matching seat. This isn't really needed but I find, "inner circle" and "outer circle" confuse the students, but if I say, "read tape" and "blue tape," then they all get it immediately.

Keep everyone moving! Normally in speed dating one group of people (e.g. ladies) will stay seated the whole time while others will rotate around them. My students are all equally antsy. To keep people seeing different partners, I alternate rotations Those on the inside of the circle rotate to counterclockwise one time, and the next time the outer circle moves clockwise.

Concluding Remarks
This is a great highly active way to practice...and we know so much of language and speaking is "Practice, Practice Practice"  
A photo posted by carissa (@clarissasinel) on

Does anyone else use speed dating in their class? Do you have any other suggestions, tips or tricks? Comment below or let me know on Twitter or Facebook.

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