THE HAT DISCUSSION ACTIVITY FOR THE EFL CLASSROOM

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Speaking is one of the reasons our students come to our lessons and keep returning to our classrooms, so we need to utilise a range of activities which fosters speaking and discussion. Here’s another activity to add to your teaching toolkit, a discussion activity which can be adapted to suit any level, class or topic.

What is a Hat Discussion?

A Hat Discussion is a method which can be utilised in order to encourage your students to speak. Sometimes it can be difficult for our students to participate in class, because they are not interested in the topic, they have nothing to say or because they don’t have the language to say what they want. A Hat Discussion allows your students the opportunity to speak in such situations.

How does it work?

The Hat Discussion is based on a business idea which aims to stimulate the creative process by allowing people to consider an idea from different viewpoints. During the activity, students wear different hats to signify different points of view. The different hats can be different colours, to make identification easier.

Procedure

The teacher brings in to class red, yellow, white and black hats – however many are needed so that each student has a hat. To begin, brainstorm emotions and attitudes expressed by the different colours:

Red = passionate, opinionated, loud

Yellow = optimistic, happy, positive

White = neutral, easily pleased

Black = pessimistic, depressing, negative

Divide the class into four groups and hand out the SAME colour hats to each group. Hand out (or write on the board) a topic for discussion. Each group must respond to the topic according to their colour hat. This gives the students a chance to brainstorm ideas together. Use this time to refer to any useful language that comes up.

Repeat this procedure with a few discussion topics.

Then, divide the students into new groups, this time with each student in the group wearing a different colour hat. Repeat the discussion topics and each student must contribute to the discussion according to the personality of the hat. At this point the students can repeat the ideas they came up with in their original groups.

Why is it effective?

The Hat Discussion works because it is so adaptable. You can use it for any topic of discussion, any level and any nationality of students. Once you use the activity with your students it will be easy to utilise the hats in later lessons without any explanation. The fact that your students are forced into a point of view means they won’t be afraid to speak up because it is not their own opinion. They can hide behind the persona of the hat, so to speak.

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