TESOL/4-3-2 Exercises

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Let's change partners. You have 60 seconds to tell the same story. Ready? Go!

A common fluency-building technique in used in teaching English as a second language is to use a 4/3/2 exercise, where a student gives a talk in four minutes, repeats it in 3 minutes to another partner, and repeats it again in 2 minutes to a third partner.

The purpose is to build fluency by reinforcing skills that the student already possesses under time pressure. Partners should be different each time so that the speaker does not feel tempted to add new information and so that there is pressure to convey a message to an audience.

Conveying a message successfully each time in the time allotted constitutes success.

A 4/3/2 exercise with small groups[edit]

This activity cannot be done with under three students without the students repeating their story to the same person. With groups of three to five students, the following patterns can be used.

In this case, the proportions of time used in 4/3/2 are used, but the amount of time for the initial telling is shortened from 4 minutes to 130 seconds. The second telling is 100 seconds, and the third is 60.

3 students[edit]

Stage 1[edit]

A and C speak. Both have 130 seconds.

B
A C
T

Stage 2[edit]

A and B speak. A has 100 seconds. B has 130 seconds.

B
A C
T

Stage 3[edit]

B and C speak. Both have 100 seconds.

B
A C
T

Stage 4[edit]

A and C speak. Both have 60 seconds.

B
A C
T

Stage 5[edit]

It's B's lucky day, because they get to speak to everyone. B has 60 seconds.

B
A C
T

4 students[edit]

4 students is an ideal number for a 4/3/2 exercise in small groups because every student gets to talk to every other student, the times per student at each stage are uniform, and the teacher can focus on the class as a whole at each step.

Stage 1[edit]

A and C speak. Both have 130 seconds.

B C
A D

Stage 2[edit]

B and D speak. Both have 130 seconds.

B C
A D

Stage 3[edit]

A and B speak. Both have 100 seconds.

B C
A D

Stage 4[edit]

C and D speak. Both have 100 seconds.

B C
A D

Stage 5[edit]

A and D speak. Both have 60 seconds.

B C
A D

Stage 6[edit]

B and C speak. Both have 60 seconds.

B C
A D

5 students[edit]

Stage 1[edit]

A, C, and E speak. Each have 130 seconds.

C
B D
A E
T

Stage 2[edit]

A, B, and D speak. B and D have 130 seconds but A only has 100.

C
B D
A E
T

Stage 3[edit]

B, C, and E speak. Each has 100 seconds.

C
B D
A E
T

Stage 4[edit]

A, B, and D speak. D has 100 seconds but A and B only have 60 seconds.

C
B D
A E
T

Stage 5[edit]

C, D, and E speak. Each has 60 seconds.

C
B D
A E
T