Communicative Speaking Activity for Foreign Languages: Category Sort

This activity is a very effective way to get students communicating with each other using a specific set of vocabulary that they are familiar with.  This is also a great activity to practice circumlocution.  I typically provide a list of words that students know well and they have the task sorting the words into categories.  Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 2.05.45 PMI either give a list of words that students list in categories or they cut them out and physically place them in categories.  The first time through, I have them put the words in two categories, then three categories and sometimes up to seven or eight categories.  The objective is to do this using only the target language as the groups or pairs negotiate the categories.  This is why it is best to provide words that are familiar.  This helps to maintain the focus on speaking and communicating the negotiation in the target language and not focusing so much on the meaning of the words.  The great thing about this activity is that there are no right or wrong categories as long as the groups can explain why the words are grouped together.  Here is a WORD document with words to use to practice to do this activity with your students.  The activity is in English, Spanish and French.I have also done this with pictures of well-kn0wn people that are related to the language and culture that we are studying (artists, actors, politicians, authors, etc.).  Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 1.46.27 PM

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