Dialog- a concept where two or more persons converse over topics that are of interest. It does not necessarily have to do with trying to find solutions to conflicts that are bothersome to both parties. It does not have to do with cheering or booing teams. It has more to do with having a discussion to find and expand interests, views and other personal traits that the parties have in common with a goal of establishing friendships (or in some cases, relationships) and exchanging ideas for the good. Hans Küng stressed using a dialog as a tool for finding common values among religions when he initiated the Global Ethics project in the 1990s, much to the dismay of priests of his own Catholic Faith. Samuel P. Huntington in his last book Who We Are, argues for compromise through dialog in order for the United States to come to terms with the influx of immigrants, especially from the south. Francis Fukuyama claimed in his thesis The End of History that the new era offers a chance for mankind to develop a universal form of civilization which includes the quest of similar values and compromise via dialog.
But dialogs do not necessarily have to concentrate on politics, religion and personal views alone. It has more to do with breaking down barriers that confines us and keeps us from reaching out. This can include language barriers, cultural and religious differences, and even personal differences, all of which are avoidable if we have the will to find a medium ground to start off with. 🙂
And this is where this activity comes to mind. It’s called Question Tag. Useful in not only foreign language classes, but also in general classes in school as well as in other education institutions, Question Tag (short, QT) offers students and/or parties an opportunity to break the ice right away and start a conversation by asking the other person a question of interest before eventually spreading it around. The main goal of this game is threefold, speaking from experience:
- For foreign language education, QT offers the students an opportunity to show their language skills, including vocabulary and skills involving asking questions, while at the same time, acquire additional vocabulary and other skills by listening and involving themselves in the conversation.
- For other topics, QT can enable a thought-provoking discussion to find out the views of others, while generating other questions and thoughts that may be useful and fruitful for the discussion. This includes specific topics, like the refugee crisis, or the US Presidential Elections, but also general topics, such as involvement in clubs and associations, interest in technology and even sports.
- Students can benefit from QT by getting to know the other one and his/her interests. This is especially useful if one or two members in the group are exceptionally shy and not forthcoming in the conversation. And as dumb as it may be, it is useful for group projects that involve people of different backgrounds and personalities, regardless of whether the project is related to work or the university.
The object of the game is simple: Each participant receives five index cards (Karteikarten in German), regardless of size, and a pen. The participant must then write down five questions that he/she has, then turn them over so that no one else can see. It’s like a poker game but more discreet. 😉
Please note that the questions must not be too personal and not too biased. So questions involving sex life and dating, as well as views on xenophobia (as examples) should be refrained altogether. But questions involving hobbies, childhood memories, first crush on a person, favorite pet are ok, if formulated appropriately.
Once the questions are written down, place them in the center of the table face down and mix them up. Then, one person chooses a card and the target person, and asks the question. After the target person answers the question, others can join to share their answers and views based on the question.
Nothing to it. 🙂
The game is open as a one-to-one but you can include as many people as you see fit. The beauty of this game is that anyone can play and it can be played in various languages. That means even people seeking refuge in Europe can play this to learn a new language, as well as those hosting them, who are interested in learning their language, like Persian and Arabic. 🙂
Question Tag serves as a starter to breaking down barriers that keep two people or parties apart. The worst a person can do is either strengthen the barrier or try breaking through to impose ideas and rules onto the other. This is where conflicts have prevailed regardless of which level. It is even more painful, if the conflict deals with language differences or even differences in culture and the way of life. Conflicts can be avoided if a middle path is found and the parties can have a peaceful co-existence. That is why dialogs are important and with that, asking about one’s interest and the way of handling people. Sometimes a question is free and can get a person somewhere- to establishing a good working relationship or even friendship. Blocking someone out is not the answer, a dialog is. And this game is one that can get a dialog going. And eventually, with a dialog, barriers can fall and a middle ground can be found and the misunderstandings can be eliminated. If you have a problem with a person or group, perhaps you can try this someday. After all, all conflicts have a solution that involves a dialog instead of a blockade, right?
That’s what I thought. 😉