Getting to Know You

Getting to Know You Better


1. Ask the students to pair up with a person they know well, or who they would like to get to know better. Explain that they are going to write a letter/Journal about that person. The letter could be to you, or to someone else the whole class knows, for example another teacher. Give them 10 minutes to interview each other, either finding out new facts, or checking those they already know.

2. Give the students 15-20 minutes to organize their notes into a plan, deciding which pieces of information should go into which paragraphs of their letter.

3. Explain that they have 15 minutes to write the letter from their plans. As in an examination, they must work on their own in silence. Tell them they may use a dictionary.

4. Ask the students to reread their letters and to underline a maximum of three phrases that they think need correction. Tell them, for each phrase, to try to think of an alternative way of saying the same thing. They should then decide which of the alternatives is preferable in terms of comprehensibility and correctness. As they do this, walk around giving help where it is needed.

5. Get the students to swap work, read the letter about themselves, and write a comment on the bottom if they want to.

6. Ask the students to leave the letters about themselves on their desks and walk around reading the other letters. Tell them to jot down expressions they particularly like or are impressed by.

7. To round off the activity, have a brief feedback discussion with the whole class.


In our experience, students are very good at spotting weaknesses in their own written work. The aim of step 4 is to train them to have a little more confidence in their ability to check, correct, or reformulate their own work. This is a useful skill for examinations.