Teachers are often searching for activities to make their classroom more interactive; language teachers in particular are also looking for activities that promote target language use. Info Gap activities are excellent activities as they force the students to ask each other questions; these activities help make the language classroom experience more meaningful and authentic. This section will explain in more detail what Info Gap activities are and why they are useful; it will also give some examples of Info Gap activities for any language classroom.
What is an information gap activity?
1- It is a speaking task, usually for a pair of students in which each student has part of the required information. They share this information to complete the task.
2- It is an activity where learners are missing the information they need to complete a task and need to talk to each other to find it.
The advantages of information gap activities:
They change the mood in the classroom, the class becomes more student-centered, enabling the teacher to change role from instructor to monitor/facilitator.
2-Student talking time can be increased.
3-Pair work gives students time to think, collaborate and reflect on the task in hand, in relative ease.
4-Teachers can tailor-make the content of the activity to provide suitable practice of the language items being taught.
5-They represent real communication.
6-Motivation can be high
7- They require sub-skills such as clarifying meaning and re-phrasing.
The disadvantages of information gap activities:
1-There may be a mismatch in the level of the students in a pair.
2-Some lazy students simply copy the required information from their partner.
3-Every pair completes the task at a different speed.
But overall I feel one can live with these possible drawbacks, and most teachers would surely agree the advantages far outweigh any disadvantages.
Types of Information Gap Activities:
1-20 questions: Students work in pairs or small groups. One student chooses an object or person and keeps it a secret. The other students must ask yes or no questions to determine what that object/person is. The maximum number of questions is 20.
2-Guess the card: Students work in partners. This is similar to 20 questions only the students already have the object chosen for them. One student holds a card so that their partner can’t see. The partner must then ask yes or no questions to determine what is on the card. Often teachers structure this activity to fit with the theme of a particular unit.
3-Find your partner: Whole class participates. Students are each given a card with an image on it; there are two of each image. Students must circulate and try to find the person with the same image by asking yes or no questions. The students may not ask “Do you have an elephant” if their image is, for example, an elephant. They must ask more descriptive questions, for example “Does your thing have 4 legs?” or “Does your thing live in the jungle?”
4-Words on back: Students work in large groups or as a whole class. Each student has a word attached to his or her back; the students must then circulate asking each other yes or no questions to determine what word is on their back.
5-Same different: Students work in pairs. Each has a different picture that should not be shown to their partner. The students take turns asking each other yes or no questions to find out how the pictures are different.
6-Fill in the chart: Students work in partners. The students are both given tables with information missing. What is missing in one partner’s table is there on the other partner’s table and vice versa. Students must ask each other questions to discover what is missing in each of their tables.