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 Survival Travel English: A basic course in EFL for travelers.


Line up and meet the class.

Time: 1-2 hours


The purpose of this lesson is to give false beginners the skills to introduce themselves and find out basic information about each other..

This lesson follows a format of independent work, discussion, chain activity, and line-up. The chain activity may have to be omitted if the class is too large.


The Teacher will need to print off and photocopy the Getting to Know Your Class worksheet.

Independent writing:

Handout the worksheet to the class and have them fill in the blanks with their information. Tell them they must also think of some questions that are appropriate for getting those answers. The teacher walks around the class and offers advice while the students are writing.


Now that the students have written all their information down, go over the blanks one at a time writing sample answers on the board. Going over the questions is especially helpful. Where I teach most false beginners have some middle school English that has been programmed into them. Although they can easily come up with a question for each answer, often the question is awkward. For example, they often write: How many members are in your family? Though grammatically correct and able to convey the message, this question is odd. It should be replaced with something like: Do you have any brothers or sisters? (If you are in Korea, you will know exactly what I'm talking about).

Chain Activity:

Have the students sit in a circle. Starting at one end, a student will give an introduction and say one fact:

Hi, I'm Jen. I grew up in Vancouver.

Then the second student will continue in the following manner:

That's Jen. She grew up in Vancouver.

I'm Mike. I'm interested in punk music.

Then the third student will continue:

That's Jen. She grew up in Vancouver.

That's Mike. He's interested in punk music.

I'm Sam. I want to be a lawyer someday.

It gets more and more difficult as the chain gets longer and longer. You will get lots of respect from your students if you yourself go last.

This exercise is excellent in that students do practice some basic sentence stems over and over again. Second, student will be able to get to know each other. Third, you, the teacher, will get a good start at memorizing your students' names. If the class is too large you may have to omit the exercise or else keep the chain length to a maximum of five people.

Line up:

Line up is probably my favorite activity for conversation classes. If you can keep your students' disciplined than you can use it almost every week. And it's pretty satisfying as a teacher to here the classroom fill up with the sounds of conversation.

Basically, you form two lines of chairs facing each other. Students sit in the chairs and face each other. Students will have conversations with the people across from them for about 3-4 minutes. Then, the teacher yell "change" and all of the students in one row move over one chair. The person at the end will come around to the front of the row.

In this particular line-up, students have to exchange their personal information that is on the Getting to Know You worksheet. An important aspect of line-up is getting students to experiment with different greetings. In Korea, students always seem to go for the robotic How are You? I'm fine. when they greet people. Students should choose one of the greetings on the left side of their worksheet when they first sit down in front of a new partner. And they should also choose another parting phrase when the teacher tells them to change.

There are many variations of line-up and I recommend you experiment with it and find what works for you. Marc Helgesen from the English Firsthand crew gives a good write up of it in his teacher's manual (though, his version is not the version that I prefer). I can say that it makes you look professional when you use it since it gives you the appearance of having a well-planned class.  And because it looks well planned, it helps give your students discipline for doing other activities.


Back to Survival English!




Target Language:

Personal Information:

I grew up in in ___________

I work for ____________

I'm into ____________

I have ________ brothers and ________  sisters.

In the future, I'd like to _______

Hello and Good bye

Nice weather, isn't it?

How's it going?

How are you doing?

What have you been up to?

It was nice talking to you.

Well, I've got to go now.