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Engagement And Challenge In Topic Activities (part 2)

By the Oxinity Team

Some subjects really arouse passions. You cannot remain indifferent to the diversity of existing practices to foster learners' fluency. During our live talk on topic activities, we realized how much we can learn from our community. These are just some of the suggestions that our teachers have shared with us.

We've compiled the best tips, requests and comments on how to achieve great fluency activities.



        1. When you create activities, think FUN! think brainstorming, think creative.        

        2. It is often a good idea to add a source for every text added, at least on the teacher's side. That way if a student wants to expand knowledge, we can always recommend them to take a look at the original source. 

        3. We could provide “expiration dates” on topics, so to speak. This doesn’t mean the topic would be erased after it expires, it would just be up for revision with more up to date content.

        4. In my humble opinion, people should look at the activity they have created and ask yourself - If I was teaching this, would I enjoy doing so! The teachers' comments section should be further utilised. An example of this is with definitions of words, or more simplistic instructions regarding the aim of the activity. Take pride in your work!

        5. I’ve found interesting and updated topics so far and students seem to enjoy them. I also find interesting exploring the possibilities we can find at ‘Ted talks’. Maybe we can use them too.


LENGTH OF TEXTS: The shorter, the better.


            1. Think of questions to promote discussion on whatever the topic is. A piece of an article with no guide for the teacher to drive discussion can make the topic feel flat. I try to have at least 4 minimum questions on an article or video to help promote conversation in the class.

            2. Make it playful, shorten texts as much as possible, create questions for teachers to ask.

            3. Try to use as little text as possible, even an interesting picture can be a lot more useful than a 250 word text.

            4. Really measure the language and remember what level the topic is being made for. Check the target language to make sure it's not a cognate if for a higher level and put the target language to test. Cut down the article a bit. Upload meaningful videos, with clear speaking and good quality.





        1. Triple check grammar, spelling and punctuation. At times the activities contain basic errors and it is embarrassing when the student notices.



VARIETY OF PRACTICES such as discussion questions, practical tasks, games, roleplays, etc.


        1. Think of ways to engage students other than just with an article and choosing something interesting and appropriate for a class. Add target language and make sure students put it into practice, think of good discussion questions, picture discussions, sequencing exercises, role plays and debates, etc.




            1. Topics that invite opinion are awesome. People love sharing opinions. Too much controversy is invasive, but a little is engaging. It’s nice when students have a friendly debate amongst themselves.

            2. Topic activities need to be appropriate and should be easy to discuss without having prior knowledge on the topic.

            3. Topics chosen should encourage a discussion, but NEVER an argument! (be careful with groups and controversial topics)

            4. It is always a good idea to ask students to summarise the text/video in order to see how much they have understood.


  • 1. Just one piece of text with hardly any questions, minimal amount of target language which is not introduced in the text or in any questions. Generally, a lack of content.
  • 2. Long texts simply copied from the Internet without thought or cohesion within the lesson plan.
  • 3. Unclear instructions, lack of questions to drive discussion.
  • 4. Just a block of text. Nothing more. No expansion activities. even worse is just a video with nothing more.


  • Base an activity solely on a video with no further options to practice the target language rather than the concept check questions related to that video. If you teach without internet, it is difficult to rely on it for a successful topic.