Rotating Partners (Line-up)

Students form two parallel lines somewhere in the classroom or other open space in order to be able to exchange information by interacting with multiple partners for short durations of time.  

Download a Strategy Guide for this Activity


  1. Teacher directs students to form two parallel, equal lines, with each student facing a student in the opposite line. Students might also form an inner-outer circle. 

  2. Students must do an assigned task (i.e. ask/answer questions,  etc.) with the student who is standing opposite them.

  3. After all students have completed the task, students in one line  should move one space to the right or left. The student at the end of the line should move to the beginning of the opposite line. This ensures that all students have a new partner to speak with. If students are in circles, one circle moves to the left or the right, the other circle remains stationary.

  4. Repeat until students have spoken to a specific number of partners, all students return to their original positions, or until time is up.

Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning

  1. This activity requires the use of breakout rooms  (Google Meets, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.).

  2. Students are given a task to complete that requires them to interact in the language.  They are sent to breakout rooms and given a specific amount of time to interact to complete the task.   Students are then randomly grouped again and engage in the same task with another partner. 

  3. For accountability: Have random students report out between rounds. Alternatively, create a google doc or graphic organizer and have students record appropriate information from each of their partners. Students might then use that information to create a written or spoken follow-up task. 

Helpful Tips

  1. Students may use a similar prompt for 2 or 3 turns in order to hear what others say in a similar situation. When students seem comfortable with the first prompt, the teacher gives another prompt by posing a new question or showing a different image. 

  2. With younger learners, the teacher might want to consider calling individual students by name and asking them to stand / sit in a spot in a line until everyone is in position.

  3. A key element to success with this activity is time management—the lower the proficiency level of the students, the shorter the amount of time should be. For example, if students are greeting one another, exchanging names, and then saying goodbye, a timer might be set to go off after 30 seconds.

  4. If lines have an uneven number of students, two students can pair up by linking elbows and acting as one partner.


  1. Novice level students can practice words, phrases, and formulaic sentences & questions in this activity.

  2. Intermediate students might be given a card with a topic and be tasked with coming up with original questions to ask/answer with each partner.

  3. Advanced level students might spend longer with their partners, possibly debating a topic or discussing a topic at length and then sharing what they learned with a previous partner with a new one.