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"Ask and move" task

This is a lesson plan using an idea from our book Breaking the Sound Barrier (Conti and Smith, 2019). It's a task-based lesson adapted from an idea from Paul Nation and Jonathan Newton. It is aimed at Y10-11 pupils aiming at Higher Tier GCSE, but is easily adaptable to other levels and languages, including A-level. This has been posted as a resource on

This type of lesson plan excites me more than many, because if it runs well, you get a classroom of busy communication when you can step back, monitor and occasionally intervene as students get on with listening, speaking and writing.

Find out about Paris task
Time: 30-40 minutes.

Preparation: print off the 4 short paragraphs on Paris (below). You can adapt this for any topic. Together these four paragraphs form a general description of the city. Secondly, write and print off the 12 questions about the topic.
1.    Explain the activity in L1. Four volunteers are ‘experts’ on Paris. Each expert has one of the four paragraphs you printed off. The remainder of the class works in pairs, with each pair having a set of questions. One partner is a scribe, the other a seeker of information from the experts. The seekers have to obtain answers to their questions from the five experts, then report back to their scribe who notes them down. They will need to ask for some correct spellings.
2.    Monitor as students move around seeking answers to their questions and reporting back to their scribes. Often the experts will not be able to answer all the questions. It will be a busy and noisy classroom!
3.    The pairs discuss the written notes and prepare to feed back. The five experts can join in with various pairs to help.
4.    Students write up a description of Paris using their notes to help. Recall that the experts each only have one part of the information needed.

You can vary the number of experts or do the task without scribes, but in the latter case your experts may be overrun with questioners if the class is big!
Ensure pupils don’t cheat by just looking at the texts an copying answers. Experts must never show paragraphs.

The 4 paragraphs.

1.  Paris est la capitale de la France avec une population d’un peu plus de 2 millions d’habitants. Il a deux aéroports qui s’appellent Roissy-Charles de Gaulle et Orly. Au centre de paris il y a des grandes gares terminus, par exemple la gare du Nord, la gare du Midi et la gare Saint Lazare. Son monument le plus con monument le plus célèbre est la tour Eiffel, construit pour l’exposition universelle de 1889. Mais le monument le plus visité est le Centre Pompidou, un musée d’art et de culture avec une architecture bizarre.

2.   Paris est célèbre pour ses musées. Le Louvre est le musée le plus visité du monde. On peut y trouver la Joconde (Mona Lisa), la peinture la plus célèbre du monde. On peut aussi visiter le musée d’Orsay où il y a des peintures impressionnistes célèbres, par exemple. L’avenue des Champs-Elysées est célèbre pour ses grands magasins et cinémas. Chaque année la course cycliste le Tour de France finit sur les Champs Elysées. On peut circuler à Paris en taxi, tram, métro, bus, voiture, vélo et même en bateau. Chaque année il y a une journée sans voiture.

3.   Paris a ses problèmes, par exemple l’air est souvent pollué et la circulation est difficile. Il y a du chômage: le taux de chômage en 2015 était 12.2% et, comme dans beaucoup de grandes villes, il y a pas mal de crime et il y a eu des attentats terroristes. Mais les touristes viennent en grand nombre : 23 millions en 2017. Beaucoup visitent les parcs d’attractions, par exemple le parc Astérix et Disneyland Paris. Il y a des touristes de toutes nationalités, en particulier américains, chinois, japonais et européens (surtout britanniques et allemands). En été il fait beau en général, mais en hiver il peut faire froid et pluvieux.

4.   Le gouvernement se trouve à Paris. Le président habite au Palais de l’Elysée et le parlement travaille à l’Assemblée nationale. Il y a aussi le Sénat. On peut aller au théâtre, au cinéma, à l’opéra de Paris et au ballet. Les enfants peuvent visiter la Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. Le grand centre sportif de la capitale est le Stade de France où on peut regarder des matchs de football et de rugby, et des grands événements comme les Jeux Olympiques. Le fleuve qui traverse Paris s’appelle la Seine. C’est le deuxième fleuve le plus long de France, après la Loire. On appelle Paris la cité des lumières.

12 Questions

1.  Comment s’appellent les deux grands aéroports de Paris ?
2.  Quels musées peut-on visiter, par exemple ?
3.  Comment est le climat de Paris ?
4.  Quels sont les deux sièges (seats) du gouvernement à Paris? 
5.  Combien de touristes visitent Paris ? D’où viennent-ils ?
6.  Comment peut-on circuler (move around) à Paris ?
7.  Qu’est-ce qu’on peut voir au Stade de France ?
8.  Quelles gares y a-t-il par exemple ? 
9. Quel est le monument le plus célèbre ? Et le plus visité ?
10. Quels problèmes y a-t-il à Paris ?
11.  Quels parcs d’attractions peut-on visiter ?
12. Que savez-vous sur les Champs Elysées ?


  1. I tried it today with my class of thirteen 10th graders in Phase 5 German. It went okay.

    What I liked is that …
    • the “experts” got a good reading comprehension task. They had to be able to answer spontaneous questions about their texts.
    • I got to recycle language that I want them to be able to use.
    • the information from this task will help them later with their own summative writing assignment.
    • this activity has a nice mixture of speaking, listening, writing and reading. All skills are represented.

    What didn’t work is that …
    • the scribes weren’t writing complete sentences unless I made them. So they were bored and not really practicing much grammar, until I forced them.
    • the questioners were getting the most practice out of everyone. But some of them weren’t actually asking the questions. They were just walking up to the experts and saying “Do you have number 4”? Facepalm.
    • I made my questions too hard. If you’re doing this activity for the first time, start with easier content, and hammer the details about spelling and word order, etc.
    • 12 questions takes a long time. Either devote a double lesson to this task, or trim the number of questions down.
    • everybody started with Question 1. The experts with the answers to the later questions were bored because nobody was asking them anything relevant to their texts.

    I am looking forward to trying this again with a beginner or intermediate group after some fine-tuning.

  2. Thanks for taking time to record your feedback here.


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