Jan 23

Repetition 1-2-3

Classroom Activity
Repetition 1-2-3

In this video, I give you a great idea for a way to run speaking tasks that I have called Repetition 1-2-3. It takes very little preparation time and will give your learners a really purposeful structure to develop their language. I hope you find it helpful whether you are teaching face to face or online.


Language learning is a skill and like any skill, it requires practice. I’m Jo Gakonga from ELT-Training and in this video I’m going to give you an idea for how to include meaningful, repetitive practice into your speaking activities.

One of the problems with speaking activities in class is that they can feel a bit purposeless for learners. They talk to their partner, maybe the teacher listens a bit as she goes around monitoring, but they might feel as if they’re not really LEARNING. One way that you can address this is to structure speaking tasks so that the learners get a chance to rehearse and practice and repeat what they want to say.

If you are asked to give your opinion on something…..’Which of these would you rather live in and why’… the first time you do this, even as a first language speaker, you are probably putting a lot of brain power into thinking about your answer- your main focus is on the content of what you are saying. If you have the chance to repeat this a second time, you already know WHAT you want to say and so you can divert some of that brain power into HOW you’re going to say it. As a learner of a language, this idea of repetition is very powerful and you shouldn’t underestimate it.

BUT, you say, repetition is boring. No one wants to just repeat what they’ve said. I think that the remedy to this is to make sure that you’re not repeating what you said TO THE SAME PERSON. If you know that the person you’re talking to is hearing it for the first time, it’s meaningful to repeat it. This is the beauty of open, personalised tasks. One person’s answer can never be exactly the same as anyone else’s.

So, here’s a way that a speaking task might run.

Give your learners a task- let’s stick with this one ….. which of these would you rather live in and why.

Give them a bit of time to think about it. Maybe to ask you for vocabulary. Maybe to look it up in a dictionary. Now put them in pairs – online this can be in breakout rooms.

Ask them to give their answer to their partner. Maybe set a time limit – a minute for example is quite a long time when you are speaking. Tell them to record what they say on their phone.

Now bring them back together – perhaps ask one or two for an answer and then give them some time on their own (maybe 3 minutes) to listen back to what they said, notice any errors that they can and think more about what to say.

Take 2 – Now rearrange the pairs and ask them to repeat what they said, in a more polished form, with a new partner. As the teacher, go around the class or the breakout rooms and listen for mistakes.

Bring them back together again and if you’ve found any errors, or good use of language, show it and do some correction together. You could get them all involved by asking them how many mistakes in a sentence or asking them to write the corrections in the chat box, but only post them when you give a signal to stop the fast typists dominating.

  • I like to live in this house. (1 mistake)
  • I’d rather live in a bungalow. (great sentence!)
  • Living in countryside is more quiet. (2 mistakes)


If you wanted, and you felt they would like it, you could swap partners and ask them to repeat one more time. Sell this to them as ‘now you are going to give the final, polished, perfect version!’ Alternatively, you could put them in pairs (in breakout rooms if you are online) and ask them to collaboratively write an answer. If you do this on one Google doc, you’ll be able to see all the groups at the same time and give help and correction. When they’ve done this, you could give them a text that answers the same question but includes some more useful language – words, phrases, collocations, perhaps in this case, a focus on the second conditional since it’s a hypothetical situation.

You can use this technique with any speaking task. I wouldn’t advise doing it all the time, but it’s a great way to really make learners focus on their spoken accuracy.

I hope that you have fun with it – thanks for watching.
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