U-Bahn: A Low-Stress, Community Building Activity Based on Course Material

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Deborah Page


As students may try to avoid speaking in a beginning level language class, they must be given the opportunity to speak as part of a group, rather than individually so they do not experience performance fear.  They must also be given the opportunity to speak extensively, rather than be limited to short formulaic answers in a question and answer activity.  Extensive speaking, even with pronunciation and grammar errors, is key to improving students’ motivation as well as their fluency. To address the fact that I wanted students to begin speaking freely from the beginning to develop speaking as they study, I introduced the U-Bahn activity, the German term for a subway.  To ensure that students would take the activity seriously, the U-Bahn is a quiz, but everyone in the class gets the same grade, and that grade starts with a perfect 10/10.

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