I hear what you’re saying, but…

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  • Create Date June 20, 2023
  • Last Updated June 20, 2023

I hear what you're saying, but...

Created by Susan Klineberg

Brief Description

In this activity, students will explore the practice of active listening in a role-play situation. Every unit in the EFL textbooks deals with issues that can be adapted to role-plays on questioning, listening, and acknowledging. The following activity is suitable for junior high and high school students (CEFR proficiency A2-B2). It can be done in the classroom, virtually, or a combination of the two (hybrid classroom situation).


Learning Objectives


  • Students will learn to actively listen to the person they are trying to persuade. 
  • They will ask questions and use paraphrasing to make sure they have understood the other person. 
  • Students will acknowledge the other person's position and empathize with him/her. 
  • They will repeat this process until they have got to the bottom of the other side's position. 
  • Students will then vocalize their position and try to persuade others. 
  • They will become familiar with and use the relevant vocabulary (see below). 
  • Students will also create an assessment rubric, requiring them to pinpoint the skills being examined.


Lead-in / Preparation / Prerequisite Knowledge


Students need to have learned about active listening techniques. (See attached file Active Listening Techniques.)


They will also be exposed to relevant vocabulary from Pathways Sentence Stems: Inquiry, Acknowledgement, Advocacy (Slide 2). 


Estimated Class-Time Required


The activity requires two 45-minute lessons, preferably a double lesson.


Description of Activities


Students will be shown the attached slide (Slide 1), and the teacher will explain it to them. (10-15 minutes)


Then, the class will brainstorm issues for this type of negotiation. These could be from the unit of the textbook being studied at the time. The teacher will write the issues on the board. There will be a discussion about whether each issue suggested is suitable and what each side's position on a particular issue could be. Students will also come up with assessment criteria and a rubric to judge each other's role-plays. (15-20 minutes)


The teacher will divide the class into groups of four or six students (depending on the number of students in the class) so that there are two or three students on each "side." Each group will choose a scenario discussed in the brainstorming session above. Two students from each group will volunteer to present the role-play. The students will then have 15-20 minutes to prepare their role-play. The teacher will walk around the classroom to answer questions and guide students. The teacher will also write the assessment rubric that students came up with on the board. If this is done in a hybrid classroom, there can also be groups working on Zoom.


The remaining class time will be taken up with the role-plays and class feedback and judging after each role-play.


Specific Example: Take a Stand, textbook used for 10th-grade students, Unit 1, page 15. "Imagine that you have been invited to a party at a friend's house. When you get there, you discover that a lot of the kids are drinking alcohol. They try to convince you to join them. You don't really want to, but you are afraid they will think you are not "cool" if you refuse. Do you accept the drink or risk losing your friends? In pairs, consider your options and decide what you will do. Be prepared to explain your decision." (Take a Stand, Debi Parouche and Allison Sarnow, ECB, 2014.) One "side" will try to convince the other. 


Key Vocabulary / Phrases


Vocabulary chunks from Pathways Sentence Stems: Inquiry, Acknowledgement, Advocacy (Slide 2)




The students assess each other using the rubric they created. 

In addition, the teacher can grade the activity according to the following questions (derived from the learning objectives):

  • Did the students ask questions to further their understanding of the situation?
  • Did the students paraphrase what the other side said in order to clarify?
  • Did the students acknowledge the other side's feelings and position and empathize with them?
  • Was this process of inquiry, restating, and acknowledging repeated until a comprehensive understanding of the situation was achieved?
  • After a deep understanding of the situation, did the students advocate their position?
  • Did the students use the appropriate negotiation vocabulary?
  • Did the students grasp the learning objectives and reflect them in the assessment criteria they chose for the rubric?




After the activity, the teacher should hold a brainstorming session with the class on how successful the activity was. This can be at the end of the activity if there is enough time or at the beginning of the following lesson. Questions to address are:


  • In what way was the activity successful?
  • What could have been done better?
  • What do you feel you have learned from the activity?
  • In which real-life situations can you apply what you have learned?



  • Active Listening Techniques
  • Slide 1
  • Slide 2



The teacher can lead the activity closely or step back and allow the students to run the activity by themselves. I suggest that the teacher guides the students more closely during the brainstorming stage for the suitability of issues, the position of "sides" in an issue, and in the establishment of assessment criteria in order to ensure that all the important points are covered.


Attached Files

Slide 2.pngDownload
Slide 1.pngDownload
Active Listening Techniques.docx.pdfDownload