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4/3/2 (Maurice, 1983)

Repeated talks to different partners in four minutes, three minutes and two minutes.


  • To build fluency in speaking Māori by getting students to repeat a short talk using the same language items


  • Known language/ideas – students use language and knowledge that is familiar to them
  • Meaningful repetition – students repeat a talk to different listeners
  • Student arrangement – students work in pairs – all students get speaking practice
  • Challenge – students have to give their talk in less time for each repetition
  • Student focus – focus on the message (not the language)
  • Language modes – speaking (and listening)



Make sure that students are suitably prepared to give their talk (this may be done in many ways; see suggested preparation).

Arrange students in pairs facing each other in a line or circle so it is easy to swap partners in an orderly way. Teacher says “Tīmata” / “Begin”, and begins timing.

Student A gives their talk to student B in four minutes. (Student B is not allowed to interrupt or question, but should give non-verbal feedback that they are listening.)

After four minutes, the teacher says “Nuku atu ki tētahi hoa hou” / “Change partners” – all A’s move along one seat (B’s do not need to move).

The teacher says “Tīmata” / “Begin” and A gives the same talk to a different partner, but this time in only three minutes.

The teacher signals the last change and A gives the same talk to another different partner in only two minutes.

Repeat the sequence with student B giving the talk three times.

Teacher considerations

You need to choose a topic for students to speak on that they already have the language and the knowledge for. This may mean pre-teaching, or using this activity at the end of a unit of work, or it may mean careful choice of something that you know your students are familiar with.

Each student gives their talk three times in a row to gain the benefit of the immediate repetition (in other words, all the A’s speak three times before all the B’s; don’t alternate who is talking).

Plan who will move when it’s time to change partners, to avoid chaos.


You can reduce or increase the length of the talks as long as the students get a shorter time for each repeat.

For lower levels, students could just repeat their talk without reducing the time if what they can say is already pretty short, for example, an initial mihi (level 1).

This activity could be preparation for giving the talk to a larger group.

Listeners can be asked to take brief notes or jot down questions to ask later. This could then be followed up with an activity where listeners compare the contents of the talks they heard.

Use this technique as a way to give practice in impromptu talks by not giving students time to prepare.

Best recording: instead of talking to a partner, students can record themselves giving a talk. They then listen to their recording and take notes of anything they think they can improve and record again until they have their best recording.

Examples of topics at different levels

Level 4 – talk about your personal plans
Level 5 – tell a simple story about something that happened
Level 8 – present an argument on a topic with reasons

Evaluation of the task

Did students increase in speed and reduce their hesitations?


– great!


– they remained slow and full of hesitations (too hard)
You may need to reconsider the topic chosen and the language needed to make sure it is really familiar enough.

– they were pretty fluent from the first talk (too easy)
You may need to choose a new topic that is a bit more challenging.

Benefits of this technique

“Research on this activity shows that the learners’ speed of speaking increased during the talks (as measured by the number of words per minute), the hesitations they make decrease (as measured by hesitations per 100 words), and surprisingly their grammatical errors in the repeated parts of the talk decrease and they tend to use several, more complex grammatical constructions in the last of the three talks than they did in the first talk.” (Nation, 1989, p. 381)

In other words, 4/3/2 pushes students to perform at a higher level than they normally do.


  • Maurice, K. (1983). The fluency workshop. TESOL Newsletter, 17 (4), 29.
  • Nation, I. S. P. (1989). Improving speaking fluency. System, 17 (3), 377–384.
  • Nation, I. S. P. (2000). Creating, Adapting and Using Language Teaching Techniques. English Language Institute Occasional Publication No. 20.

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