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Activity - How to Maximize Student Talk Time


Mingles are good way to maximize student speaking time. Students will be constantly asking and answering questions. It is a good social activity that engages all students. Mingles need to be properly set up.

Make sure students understand their task. If students don’t understand or are not doing it properly, stop the mingle and give further instructions. A demo is always a good idea.

Teachers can participate in the mingle, however, be careful not to become the center of attention. It is the students’ time to talk. During a mingle, teachers can monitor and assess how their students are doing.

Suited Mingle

Age: teenagers and adults

Level: pre-intermediate and intermediate

Time: 20-30 minutes

Material: A deck of playing cards, printed sheets of questions, flash cards (optional)


• To have students introduce themselves

• To develop students’ ability to ask and answer a variety of questions

• To develop students' ability to use a variety of tenses

• To develop students’ communication skills


Warm-up: 5 minutes

Introduce card suits to students. Draw pictures of a club, a spade, a heart, and a diamond on the whiteboard (or use flash cards). Ask the class the name of each symbol and where they can see these symbols.

Introduce the names of face cards using actual cards or flash cards.

In pairs, have students answer the following questions (write the questions on the board):

1. Do you have a favorite card game?

2. Do you like playing card games? Why or why not?

Speaking activity: 15 minutes (including directions)

Goal: Ask and answer questions, collect as many cards as quickly possible

1. Each suit has a different topic. Before class, print out a few sets of questions for each suit and hang them around your classroom.

2. Give each student a card and direct their attention to the sheets of questions around the classroom. The teacher keeps the rest of the cards from the deck.

3. When you signal, students get up, go to one of the sheets and match their card suit and number to a question.

4. Students must find another student and ask their question.

5. After the question is answered, students will quickly get another card from the teacher and go back to the question sheets to find their new question.

6. Students keep their finished cards. Whichever student has the most cards is the winner.

7. The activity is finished when there are no more cards.

Before starting the activity, do a quick demo and ask a few follow up questions to ensure students understand the task.

Follow up (optional): 5 to 10 minutes

1. The students with the most cards introduce some new information about a few students that they mingled with. In a large class or a class with teenagers, this will also allow the teacher to check that students actually did the task.

2. In pairs or small groups, students share some of the information that they learned about others. They then have the option to share with the whole class.

3. In pairs or small groups, students introduce themselves or answer a few more questions about themselves.

Sample topics and questions for each suit. Change the topics and/or the questions to match your students’ ability or lesson theme.

Clubs: Personal questions

1. What’s your full name?

2. What’s your phone number?

3. What’s your address?

4. How old are you?

5. How long have you been studying English?

6. Where is your hometown?

Spades: Describe things

1. Describe your face.

2. Describe your house or apartment.

3. Describe your pet.

4. Describe your best friend.

5. Describe your favorite food.

6. Describe your favorite place.

Hearts: What questions

1. What did you have for dinner last night?

2. What is your favorite sport?

3. What type of music do you like?

4. What is your favorite television show?

5. What food do you hate?

6. What is your favorite color?

Diamonds: If clauses

1. If you had one million dollars, what you spend it on?

2. If you could be any animal, what would you be?

3. If you had to live in another country, where would you live?

4. If you could speak 3 languages really well, what would they be?

5. If you could do any job, what would you choose?

6. If everyone in the world disappeared, what would you do?

If a mingle is too noisy or your classroom is quite small, a speaking activity can be done in pairs or small groups. Most text books have speaking activities, but you can easily set one up yourself.