In this series, we discuss Student Interaction Routines, which are task-based strategies that help ensure each student has abundant strategic practice using new language for meaningful purposes. Developing a robust wheelhouse of interaction routines enhances student engagement and increases productive talk time.

Lines of Communication 

lines of communicationThis a whole-class routine that provides multiple opportunities for language production with a variety of partner combinations. It can be structured to practice asking and answering questions, building on each other’s ideas, or reviewing tricky language patterns. Students of all ages enjoy the opportunity to talk to multiple classmates about interesting topics. It is perfect for the You Do Together portion of the lesson.

 Thoughtful planning is critical to success. The basic guidelines for this routine are: 

Change it up!
As students gain experience with this routine, there are lots of exciting ways to change it up!

Make it worth students’ time!
However you decide to run Lines of Communication, be sure you’ve taught the language you’re asking students to practice. Create prompts that are relevant and push students to think. Be ready to tweak the prompts or responses if they prove too easy. Then you can confidently set the expectation that students continue practicing until they hear the signal. 

Find more details on Lines of Communication and other interaction routines in the Cue Card Booklet.

Written by: Susana Dutro, Co-founder and CEO with
Donna Smith


This blog is one in a series on Student Interaction Routines. Read the additional installments:

Growing English Proficiency: What's Practice Got to Do with It?
Growing English Proficiency: Numbered Heads Together
Growing English Proficiency: Talking Stick