In the mid-1980s I went to a wonderful course in Southampton which introduced me to the term 'information gap'. I think the speaker was Ann Miller. (Apologies - I did not write her name on the sheet - if anyone can confirm / correct me, I'd be grateful!). She demonstrated how every single stage of the learning process could be made more 'authentic' by creating or exploiting 'information gaps'.
Ways of creating an information gap.
1) of grammatical items and functions
• hide it
• partially obscure it
• show range of items from which class must guess your choice
• remove it change it
• offer information so surprising as to require verification
2) of spoken texts
• mystery to be clarified
• décalage between spoken and written text, pictures different information different sequence, missing information etc
3) of written texts
• anticipation of content
• comparison of more than one text
• shock information
• interesting narrative
(Replication of above activities in teacher/class, pupil / class, pupil /pupil format
Ways of using cards
• face down/up
• one partner only has information other has to guess draw etc
• pelmanism principle [e.g.
• number of items from which one partner makes secret choice
• ‘Cherchez la femme’ principle
• partial information to each partner
• collect set
• find person with same information
Ways of justifying giving information people already have
• in role: famous people, panellists swap roles
• displacement of time or place
• official demands
• teen magazines
• yes / no interlude,
• personality tests
• how much do you know about your partner?
• add in an emotion: anger, remorse, etc
Suggestions for exploiting various types of texts
(what would normally be the readers way of processing the information?)
• what do pupils already know?
• what do other texts say?
• compare partners choice at most important sentence in each paragraph, subheadings etc
• diagram of chronology, cause-effect
• role play take point of view and justify
• relate information to pupils, self famous people etc
• do on behalf of self and partner
• make up more answers/questions
• what do you expect her to do?
• things she does/ doesn't do
• pleasure/ work
• order of priority
• act out dialogue
• relate answers to questions
• manifesto of candidate
• account of week as apology
• angry husband
• what adjectives would you expect to describe a lipstick?
• give the adjectives- what is the product?
• give list of some adjectives in the ad, some not
• put adjectives in order of effectiveness
• write advert for aftershave
• turn into a video
• whose improvement the greatest?
• invent more dramatic before and afters
• different product
• some information to each partner
• memory test
• which one do you like best?
• surmise other categories
• apply to self, partner et cetera