Please find a selection of information gap activities for students in pairs or threes.
- Have you ever Present Perfect Simple information gap, duo
- Family Tree information gap, trio
- Present Simple information gap, duo
- Good Friends information gap, present simple, duo
What is an information gap activity?
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.
What are 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.
Student talking time can be increased.
Pairwork gives students time to think, collaborate and reflect on the task in hand, in relative ease.
Teachers can tailor-make the content of the activity to provide suitable practice of the language items being taught.
There may be a mismatch in the level of the students in a pair.
Some lazy students simply copy the required information from their partner.
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.
Duo / Trio / Quartet ?
The conventional tried and trusted information gap is designed for a pair of students, which I term ‘Duo’. But in some ways I prefer the ‘Trio’, where the information is spread between 3 students.
In a Trio the dynamic of the task changes drastically. With pairs A knows B has the relevant information, and B knows it too. However in a Trio A doesn’t know whether B or C has the information, and B and C may not be sure either. This element of doubt really spices up the activity.
And why not a Quartet too? I find that these also work well. But 4 students is probably the limit. An information gap for 5 students starts to get a little too unwieldy, and is very tricky to design, plus the individual student talking time may decrease too much.
How can the information be presented?
Charts, illustrations, text, bullet points, even listening or video can all create fantastic information gaps.
This is where the skill of the materials designer comes to the fore, selecting the best method for the language items and the students.
What about instructions?
I follow the KISS mantra, keep it simple stupid.
Most students are not thick and many will know what to do without any rubric, so I like to keep the instructions to a minimum, something like: ‘Answer these questions with B‘.
Information gap activities have long been a vital tool in the language teacher’s toolbox, and rightly so.