Lesson Activity

Education Connections Tuesday’s Tip: Hawks and Eagles

Forum: Tuesday’s Tips (Education Connections)

Erik Halvorson wrote:

Education Connections

For most students, the best learning does not happen when language is conveyed through explicit instruction alone. Instead, language acquisition (the learning of vocabulary, grammar rules, etc.) seems most successful when students are engaged around using and participating with the language, while also having a personal investment in the learning process and use (see Saegert et al. 1974, Tucker 1977; Taylor, 1983).

One great strategy to help engage learners is a game called Hawks and Eagles. This is a highly adaptable learning strategy that involves repeated paired group work. In this game, students are assigned the role of either hawk or eagle. Each group or student is given a specific task and asked to pair up with someone from the other group (e.g., an eagle with a hawk), such that each student becomes the expert in their assigned task. Next, the students work in pairs to share their knowledge of the task or activity with a partner in whatever way is most effective (drawing, writing, oral descriptions, etc.). Teachers should ensure that students have had ample time to work on the task. After the sharing process, either hawks or eagles will “leave the nest” and work with a new partner from a different animal group.

This activity can be an excellent tool for helping students learn vocabulary. Each student becomes the expert in one or two words, then teaches these words to other students in the class. After meeting, the students would trade words and teach the new words to their next partner, continuing in this fashion until they have had the chance to teach all of the words. In addition, Hawks and Eagles can provide a wonderful way for students to discuss and collaborate as they critically explore topics and background knowledge before a lesson.

Hawks and Eagles gives students the opportunity to work in dynamic pairs in which they become responsible for both teaching and active learning. As always, it is critical for teachers to closely monitor and review the material at the end of the game to ensure information was accurately passed, to provide any needed clarification, and to answer any questions.


Saegert, J., Scott, M., Perkins, J., & Tucker., G. (1974). A note on the relationship between English proficiency, years of language study and medium of instruction. Language Learning24(1), 99-104.

Taylor, B.P. (1983). Teaching ESL: Incorporating a communicative, student-centered component. TESOL Quarterly17(1), 69-88.

Tucker, G. R. (1977). Can a second language be taught? In H. Douglas Brown, Carlos A. Yorio, and Ruth H. Crymes (Eds.), On TESOL ’77. Washington, D. C.: TESOL, 14-30.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: