Volume 31 Number 1
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Keiko Abe-Ford

In an EFL or ESL class with 20 or more students, I teach target sentences and lead students to practice them in “interaction time.” When I set up practice time or interaction time, I ask the students to interact with several other students in pairs. However, because they are classmates, the students start to mix English and Japanese (their native language). Some only partly participate in the process or speak too softly to hear one another. So I created this fingertip communication activity. I use this activity not only for young students but also for college students, adults, and teachers in training classes


What you need: Picture cards from previous lessons for each student.

Sample activity

Target language content: school subjects

Sentence frame 1: Do you like _________? (science, math, social studies, home economics, music, English, Japanese, arts and crafts, PE)

Sentence frame 2: Do you study science on Monday?


Each student gets one picture card for one of the subjects.

With “Go!” sign, students freely walk around the class.

When the teacher rings a bell, the students stop walking and face the nearest student.

The teacher says, “Fingertip time.”

Both students stretch out one arm and touch each other’s fingertips.

Students are now standing at arm’s length from one another.

They put their arms down, keeping the distance.

Each pair starts to interact with “Do you like _______?” showing the card to the partner.

The partner answers.

The opposite partner now asks and shows the card he or she has.

After the process, they exchange their cards and say, “Bye!”

They find another partner and repeat the process.

The results of this activity is that students use less native language, speak louder and more clearly, look in each other’s eyes, and feel good speaking English. Try this activity and let your students experience success in English with fingertip communication.

Keiko Abe-Ford, keiko.abe-ford@nifty.com,is an active member of EEIS. She works with all ages of English learners in Japan.

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