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Meaningful Activities. By Teresa Naves Nogués Universitat de Barcelona Oct 2000. Meaningful Activities: Characteristics.

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meaningful activities

Meaningful Activities

By Teresa Naves Nogués

Universitat de Barcelona

Oct 2000

meaningful activities characteristics
Meaningful Activities: Characteristics.
  • The goal aims at learning and/or doing something else besides practising the target language (Not a linguistic-only goal)
  • Info-gap (genuine questions)
  • Real-life oriented and real language use
  • Guessing orgame, (also role-play or simulation) or story telling involved
  • Closed to students’needs and interests
  • Context-embedded (contextualised)
  • Cognitively demanding (comparing, sorting out, inferring, predicting, classifying, etc.)
1 the goal is not just linguistic check list
1. The goal is not just linguistic Check list

1. Will students be learning something else besides the language forms (vocabulary, grammar structures, functions, etc.)? Will they be learning something else about the world e.g. which is the largest planet, the closer to the Sun?

2. Will students be doing something else besides practising the language forms, e.g. drawing, performing an act, playing a game, etc. ?

2 info gap check list
2. Info-gap Check list
  • Do learners know in advance the answer to the task /question?
  • If the task were carried out in students’ first language, would they already know the answer to the task / question?
  • Is it a genuine, true question? Or is it a non-authenticquestion? Is it requesting some infromation or is it asking to use English?
3 real life oriented and real language use check list
3. Real-life oriented and Real Language Use Check list
  • If it weren’t for the fact that the task is being conducted in English, could I be doing this type of task in the real world?
  • Could I be saying this outside class if it weren’t for the English? Could I be saying the same (but in my first language) to a friend, relative, neighbour
4 guessing game role play simulations story check list
4. Guessing /Game (role-play, simulations …) /Story Check list
  • Is there any guessing involved?
  • Is there an element of competition involved? Is there a winner? Are there rules and points? Does it look like a game?
  • If it is a story, is the way and content of the story interesting enough?
5 closed to students needs and interests check list
5. Closed to Students needs and interests Check list
  • Considering the students age, is the topic, activity and content of their interest? Would students be interested in finding out more about this topic?
  • Would students be interested in carrying out this type of task? Would they like it?
  • Would students benefit from this type of activity? Does the activity teach them something they need?
6 context embedded check list
6. Context embedded Check list
  • Is there any relation between the theme, topic of each of the questions/ situations/ texts /sentences?
  • Can students benefit from background knowledge precisely because they are already familiar with the context?
  • Do students have additional information from the context in which the activity is based?
7 cognitively demanding check list
7. Cognitively demanding Check list
  • Do students need to pay careful attention in order to solve the task? Is concentration important?
  • Does the activity involve solving a problem, classifying, sorting out, comparing, inferring, predicting, evaluating, etc. ?
example 1 to what extent are these activities meaningful

I have brought these three new balls. Look at them. Ball A is smaller than B. Ball B is smaller than C, isn’t it?. Ball C is the biggest. Ball A is the smallest. Now, Clara, Is Ball B smaller than C? Which is the biggest ball?


How much do you know about the planets in the solar system? Look at this picture / table. Is Mars larger or smaller than Earth? Which is the smallest planet in our solar system? Which is the largest planet?

Example 1. To what extent are these activities meaningful?
example 2 to what extent are those activities meaningful

Teacher shows students some objects and then she asks them what colour they are: What colour is this book? It’s red. This is a red book. And this, what colour is it? It’s blue. This is a blue purse.


Teacher shows a colourless picture of fruits and asks students to colour them. A banana what colour is it? Yellow, right What about apples, what colour are they? Red Ok let’s paint a red apple. Does anybody like green apples as well? Let’s paint a green apple this time

Example 2. To what extent are those activities meaningful?