This week’s speaking activity: Speed dating (Timed pair share)


I thought I would share what I have been doing in my conversation classes this week. It is based on the idea of cooperative learning, and is designed to allow each student an equal amount of time to share their ideas. It also brings to the classroom the idea of speed dating, as proposed by Adam Simpson in his blog, Teach Them English. This is a great activity for the start of the school year, to get students to share personal information. I often also use it after a school holiday or at the end of the school year so that they can talk about their holidays, although it will work for any topic you need to cover in the course where the students need to give their personal vew.

Time:    20 – 30 minutes (longer if you want and the students are enjoying it)

Level:   Pre-intermediate – Advanced

Have the students prepare a topic to talk about for two minutes. They can make notes, but they shouldn’t write any more than key words. Once they have prepared their ideas, place them in pairs. Each student has two minutes to tell their partner about their topic. The partner can help by asking questions or prompting, but cannot begin their turn until the two minutes is over.


Once both students have shared their ideas, change the pairs and repeat the exercise. However, this time each partner answers with the information from their previous partner. In this way they check their comprehension, and also they are not repeating the same information twice, so repeating the exercise is more interesting for them. You can even repeat the exercise a third time, with different pairs, each partner giving the information from their second partner. You should finish the session with each student reporting to the class what they have learnt from their last partner, contrasting this information with the person they are talking about.

For more ideas for speaking activities, click here.

7 thoughts on “This week’s speaking activity: Speed dating (Timed pair share)

  1. This is a very interesting activity. I teach IELTS and this fits in nicely as I try to get my students to speak for 2 minutes. I’ll try this! I already have a few adaptations that I can think of that may work well too.

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