Partners’ Pastimes: An activity with Wh- questions

You may choose to use this activity in the context of a grammar or writing lesson for basic or low intermediate students.

Step 1 – Explain the meaning of pastime. Do the students know of any other word with a similar meaning (i.e., hobby)? List a few of your favorite pastimes on the board, and as you write single words or short phrases, be sure to speak in full sentences. For example, you may write reading as you say, “I enjoy reading.”

Step 2 – Create several question cards. You can use index cards or slips of paper. Ask the students to help by telling you question words in English that ask for more information. Write one word on each card. [Suggestions: how, why, where, when, who, how often, how much, how many, with whom, at what time, which, etc.] Shuffle the cards and place them in a stack.

Step 3 – Hand the stack to the first student. When a student takes a turn, she or he will take the top card from the stack and make a question about one of your pastimes using that question word. Example: [where] “Where do you read?” / “Where do you like to read?” Answer each student’s question. The stack will be passed on to the next student on the left.

Step 4 – Place students in small groups, one group for each of your pastimes. Ask them to compose a short text based on the information they learned during the questioning. When possible, they should combine information. For example, they may know when and where you like to do an activity. That information can be stated in a single sentence.

Model: Jennifer enjoys reading. She likes to read at home in the evenings. She reads many different books. She gets books from the library. Her favorite books are science fiction.

Step 5 – Have students pair up for partner interviews. They may use my Wh- Questions_handout to learn more information about their partners’ pastimes and then write a short text.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. sultan23c says:

    Thank you and I enjoyed so much!!!! I am impressed about your method.I am soo excited!! Thanks a lot your all advice and helping. I’ve too benefit from your lesson. When i have free time i listen your video. Thank you very much all of you.
    Sultan Ahmed (Pakistan )

  2. very nice article jennifer..!!! as a new English teacher, your post is very helpful for me.

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      Glad to hear it. Happy blogging and happy teaching to you!

  3. Eric says:

    Thank you for sharing this flexible, detailed lesson plan. Combining writing and speaking activities makes this exercise more effective too.
    Since I teach in Los Angeles, I usually use the phrase “free time” instead of pasttime for similar activities. Next time I will use both phrases.

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      I think you’re right, Eric, that we use “free time” more often. It’s good for students to be aware of both expressions. The other day a student asked me what the difference was between “personal interests” and “hobbies”. From resumes to online networks, we’re asked to list these, aren’t we? I suppose you could be technical and say that, for example, stamp collecting and kayaking are true hobbies, but learning about history and culture by watching documentaries on TV is more a personal interest. Still, I think a person could give basically the same answer regardless of the question:
      a. What do you do in your free time?
      b. What’s your favorite pastime?
      c. Tell me what hobbies/ personal interests you have.

  4. Eric says:

    Of course, many adult immigrants will quickly note that they have almost no free time to pursue their hobbies! A common criticize is that Americans “live to work, but I work to live”.

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      So true! My husband (a Russian) complains about Americans being too focused on work. Thanks to him, our family has taken some fun trips to tropical destinations.

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