Professional Development

Incorporating online interaction in language teaching

Sarah Laughran

This #TDWednesday we’re giving you a taster from Lindsay Clandfield & Jill Hadfield’s Interaction Online.  We’ve taken an activity from the handbook which was shortlisted for the Ben Warren prize, awarding authors of the most outstanding work in the field of language teacher education, and has also been shortlisted for an ELTon Award.

Suitable for anyone wanting to incorporate online interaction in their language teaching, the handbook contains over 75 tried and tested activities.  With the Super Bowl happening last weekend, we picked an activity with a sports theme to share with you.


3.12 Sports Shorts

Outline Students write three rules for a sport, which others have to guess.
Level Elementary and above (A2-C1)
Focus Sports, rules of popular sports
Time A week
Preparation Make sure you are familiar with the rules of the sports you assign to students. See the possible list of sports below.


  1. This stage can be done face-to-face or online. Go over the rules of football/soccer with the students, highlighting key phrases and asking them to help you complete the rules. e.g.: You play this game … (in two teams).
 Each team has … (11 players). You play this game with … (a ball, and two nets). You play the game … (on a pitch). You cannot … (touch the ball with your hands). You have to … (pass and kick the ball with your feet).To score a goal, you need to … (kick the ball into the opponent’s net).The team with the most … (goals) wins.


  1. Set up a forum and give it a name (e.g. Sports shorts) and assign each student a sport from the list below. Post Task 1 and set a deadline for posting rules.


Task 1: Stimulus






Possible list of sports

  • basketball
  • volleyball
  • water polo
  • figure skating
  • rally car racing
  • hockey
  • baseball
  • wrestling
  • boxing
  • billiards


  1. Once all students have posted their rules, post Task 2 and set a deadline for posting guesses.


Task 2: Interaction 1








Once all the sports have been guessed, or almost guessed, post the list of the sports you assigned and congratulate the group. Post any important language corrections at this point if you see them. If you want to extend the activity, you could post Task 3 below (optional).


Task 3: Interaction 2





If you enjoyed the above classroom activity, watch the video below with authors Jill and Lindsay who discuss what they have learnt about online interaction, and how students and teachers can use technology to aid their lessons.

If you enjoyed reading about using online tools for teaching, take a look at Cindy James’ recent article on Using technology in the language classroom.

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