Activity 19: One Question Survey

▶ Duration:  10–20 min
▶ Aim:  Speaking and listening practice
▶ Summary:  Each student receives a different question, and conducts a survey of their classmates.

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Devise as many survey questions as there are students in the class, and write each question on a slip of paper. The questions can either be wide-ranging, or restricted to a single topic (in which case the topic can be chosen to suit the content of the lesson). See the Resources section for examples. If you devise your own questions, please share them with us by posting in the Comments section.

The questions should be ones which will lead to short answers which can be collated to produce statistics. For example, "Do you often have scary dreams?" would be a better question than "What did you dream about last night?", because the latter not only takes a long time to reply to (meaning that the student will not have time to survey many people), but also everyone will have a different answer. On the other hand, the question "Do you often have scary dreams?" will lead to just a few answers such as "often", "sometimes", "never" which can be added up to find a percentage. "Yes/no" questions are okay, but if all the questions are of this form then the activity might seem boring and repetitive.

This activity can be introduced with a demonstration. Explain that each person will receive a different question. Then choose one question and ask it to 3 or 4 students, writing their names and answers on the blackboard. Afterwards, calculate your statistics and present a report to the class: "I surveyed 3 people on the topic of spicy food and I found that 67% enjoy spicy food while the remaining 33% do not."

Explain that the students should try to interview as many classmates as possible, until you tell them to stop. Make it clear that they should write the names and answers on a piece of paper.

Distribute one question to each student. After they have spoken to people nearby, encourage them to leave their seats and find more people to interview.

After 10–15 minutes, ask students to return to their seats and calculate their results. Then get them to form groups (of about four students) and report their results.

Finally, select some students to report to the class. Since everybody has a different question, this can continue for quite a long time if you wish it to. Also, you can encourage class discussion on the more interesting questions and results.

Here are 33 survey questions on the topic of food and cooking: food_survey_questions.doc (html preview).
Rating: 3.5 stars

I found that this activity ran fairly smoothly, but there's not much challenge for the students because they just ask the same question each time. However, it is useful as a warmer.