ABAX is an independent and award-winning publisher of ELT materials with offices in Tokyo, Japan and in San Francisco, California. ABAX texts are in use in universities, colleges, high schools and private language schools around the world.
Read more


BREAKING NEWS: Fiction in Action: Whodunit  has won the 2011 ELTons Cambridge ESOL International Award for Innovation!

Last November, Whodunit was awarded The Duke of Edinburgh's English-Speaking Union English Language Award 2010 in an awards ceremony held at Buckingham Palace. Congratulations Adam! Congratulations Marcos!

An eText through Creative Commons!

Fiction in Action: Whodunit. The world's first ELT eText available through Creative Commons. Click on the cover to find out more.


Activity Corner

Each week in the Activity Corner we offer a lesson plan or extension activity for teachers to copy and to use (but not to publish or offer for sale). We also sometimes feature an example of material you can make yourself. As the activity featured here changes several times a month, if you like what you've seen, please come back!


Class Size: 8-30

Class Level: High-Beginner to Advanced

Class Type: Oral Communication or Writing classes

Activity Type: Group

Approximate Time for Activity: A full lesson. 50-80 minutes

Aim: Question-making practice, practice talking within a thematic area with which students are familiar

Preparation Time: Little to none

You can vary this lesson greatly depending on who your students are. In this case the students are first year students at a Japanese women's college and the thematic area to be focused on is the lifestyle they lead.


• write the word 'LIFESTYLE' up on the board. Ask students what this word means, what are some words associated with it. Ask students about their own lifestyles. Perhaps have them talk in pairs for one minute each about their lifestyles.

• write the following up on the board: 'You are a reporter from Singapore. You are writing an article for a magazine about the lifestyles of Japanese college students. To research this article you need to interview some students. Write down five good questions to ask.' Check student understanding of this and explain any terms with which they are unfamiliar and emphasize that these are questions to help you as a reporter learn about the lifestyle of Japanese college students. With lower level classes you might also want to put some sample questions up on the board (e.g. Do you get enough sleep? What do you and your friends usually do after school? What is your biggest worry right now?)

• give students 5 to 10 minutes to complete the task of writing the questions. As they are doing this walk around the room and check what students are writing. Offer suggestions for better questions and correct the structure of questions where necessary. Note which students are coming up with good collections of questions. 

• arrange students into groups of three: Student A, Student B, Student C. Write on the board: 'Student A: You are the reporter, Student B: You are YOU, Student C: You are YOU.' You can let students themselves choose who is the reporter or with weaker or mixed groups choose the reporters yourself, the stronger students or the students who have come up with good selections of questions.

• write the following on the board:

A: Excuse me but I'm writing an article on the lifestyles of Japanese college students. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

B/C: Not at all.

A: Well to begin… (YOUR QUESTIONS)


A: Thank you for answering my questions.

B/C: You're welcome!

• before having students do this themselves remind the students that they are reporters and that reporters keep notes of the answers they hear.

• act out the dialogue above with one of the better students. Include two or three questions about lifestyle. Pretend to write down (or better yet, write down) the answers you hear.


• now have students in their groups do the role play. After three to four minutes (or when many students seem to be coming to the end of their questions) say "Stop!" and explain that reporters when researching an article don't just interview one or two people but have to ask many people questions. Ask the reporters to stand up. In a circular fashion have each reporter move to join the next group and begin the role play again.

• repeat this until each reporter returns to their original group.

• the reporters should then share what they found out about Japanese students (or details of whatever the theme is) with their original group members.

• should you wish, this activity can easily be extended into a writing exercise in which students individually or in groups use the information gathered to write the article the reporter asked the questions for.

©2009, Hugh Graham-Marr