Scroll down to see “Special Person Interview” classroom posters in 13 languages!

For hands-on training and demonstrations, ask Bryce about his new Special Person Workshop, with a free accompanying handbook for all participants. Remote or in-person training is available.

Read Bryce’s blogs about Special Person interviews here.

Because many examples are from lower levels, teachers of upper levels often understandably wonder if Persona Especial interviews work in levels 3, 4, and 5. This interview with a non-native student named Jayme in a level 3 class will help to answer that. Read this article to see how Special Person interviews can work in upper-level classes: QUESTION-DRIVEN GRAMMAR IN SPECIAL PERSON INTERVIEWS: Jayme 

This is how to do Special Person interviews in levels 3, 4 & 5 — and keep the interviews going. This is a chapter from Bryce’s forthcoming book on how to launch the interpersonal mode with Persona Especial student interviews. Special Person Interviews in Upper Levels


Steps of the Process Chart for Special Person Interviews

  • 1. Ask a Question… and then Follow-Up. Following up shows you are interested in the student and not just following your own agenda. If the student shows any enthusiasm in the answer, continue to ask a series of follow-up questions. Their body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, even eye pupil dilation will give away their interest or pride in their answers.
  • 2. “Report Back” to the Class  Repeat steps 1 & 2 as long as the interest lasts. Mojo (energy and interest) is king.
  • 3. Verify Information with the interviewee. Say something like “So you’re saying that…”  or “Let me get this straight…” and repeat the interview information back to the student.
  • 4. Check for Understanding with the class: “What do we know about this person, class?”
  • 5.  Students Write Notes about the interview for themselves. Pairing with another student helps. In rowdy classes or with younger students, have them write what you “report” in step #2 rather than in step #5.
  • 6. Quiz: Students write sentences in the target language about the interview (no notes). Usually the next day.

Teaching World Language like Socrates   This is a chapter from my forthcoming book on how to do Special Person/Persona Especial student interviews.

Here are the results of Persona Especial Interviews after less than 2 months in a Spanish 1 class. Students were able to manipulate the language and confidently engage in conversation for almost an hour (!) with the student teacher, who masterfully answer with interesting comprehensible input:  STUDENTS INTERVIEW THE STUDENT TEACHER

Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish:  Real connections and deep, lasting attitude & behavior changes, while acquiring useful interpersonal language.

Real Students + Real Language + Real Interest =  Real Acquisition


“Special Person” student interviews are the very definition of student-centered learning. In this ongoing classroom interview activity/method, we focus on the students and ask them questions about their lives, their interests and their goals. And it works with ALL levels.

A  common definition of student-centered learning is that it “… puts students’ interests first. It acknowledges student voice as central to the learning experience and allows students to choose what they will learn, how they will learn, and how they will assess their own learning.”

This is precisely what we do with quality C.I. instruction. Students get to choose and show ownership in many aspects of learning. Students choose what they will reveal and they choose how to portray themselves. This is CHOICE and VOICE. This ability to choose also shows up other areas of instruction:

a) Choosing what to read in FVR: Students choose what to read and how much of it they will read. If they don’t like a book or can’t understand it, they can put it down and choose another.

b) Choosing which book report to write about the books they have read. Allow students to choose how they will demonstrate understanding is important element in students-centered learning.

c) Choosing which essay questions they will answer on a semester test. They will be asked to answer essay questions at times, but allowing them which ones to answer is always an option.

d) Choosing what details to add in a co-created class story. When students can choose details in a story they feel like they have created it. That leads to ownership and engagement.

e) Choosing which version of an embedded reading to summarize. Embedded reading versions can range from 20 to over 500 total words. Allowing students to summarize, draw, or act out different versions can help slower students to engage and can challenge faster acquiring students. 

f) And especially, choosing how they will be assessed on their understanding of a reading, video, or class discussion.

With student interviews we talk with each student in the target language and the discussions grow in depth and complexity as the students grow in language ability—throughout the school year and across courses. Students choose what they will share and the direction of the interview by their responses. We also quiz the students regularly on what they know about their classmates to help them maintain focus and raise their level of concern just a bit.



“Special Person” posters with student interview questions and sentence starter answers are available in several languages (free of charge) below. These questions can help provide a format to help you to begin this fantastically engaging activity/method with your students. I leave them up in the classroom to help struggling students engage in classroom conversations.

Arabic Special Person
Thanks to Ashley Fredrick, of Fort Dodge, Iowa, for the translation.

Mandarin Chinese: 
Chinese Special Person CLASSROOM POSTER 1  
Chinese Special Person CLASSROOM POSTER 2
Thanks to Jian Li, of Dallas, Texas for these translations.

Thanks to Kirstin Plante of  Arcos Publishers  for translating and sharing these posters in Dutch.

Thanks to Carrie Ely from Lee, Massachusetts and Anna Gilcher in Cameroon for these.

Superstar – Eine spezielle Person German PowerPoint
Superstar Interviewfragen-1 German
Thanks to Ulrike “Ulla” Seckler for creating and sharing these German Special Person Interview materials.

שאלות לראיון תלמידים Special Person in Hebrew
Thanks to Howard Handler for putting in the work and time to create this poster of the Special Person Questions in Hebrew.

Ho Chunk Special Person
Thanks to Shena Munden, of the Ho-Chunk nation in Wisconsin, for the translation of the questions and adapting them to Ho-Chunk culture. This is worth looking at even if you don’t speak Ho-Chunk.

INDONESIAN Special Person Interview
Thanks to Mei Turnip, from Canberra, Australia, for this translation into Indonesian!

Thanks to Lisa Alemany from the Hudson Valley, in New York for this translation into Italian!

Thanks to Betsy Watson, Ed.D. from Anchorage, Alaska for these!

Here is a link to the questions in Latin that I use in my classroom, the DISCIPVLVS ILLVSTRIS.
Thanks to Lance Piantaggini for the modeling in Latin here. Visit his website,, for more Latin C.I. musings and graded readers in Latin.

Thanks to Michele Whaley for the language, and Don Read for the formatting on this labor-intensive PowerPoint for the Russian classroom. Follow Michele’s outstanding Comprehensible Input blog here.

Here are student interview posters with graphics in Spanish for young students: Persona Especial Posters for Elementary Students  by Amy Roe of The Storyteller’s Corner.



Focusing on a student and asking the right kind of questions to bring out her personality and make her shine like never before is a skill that can be developed. This article, I explain how to put the focus on the students and make them the star as you do personal interviews in your classroom: Make Any Student The Most Interesting Person in The Room

RECENT USEFUL WORDS–POSTERS   Some teachers find it useful to record the words used in interviews. This is a list I used one year. One interesting thing about it is that the list is finite. The upper limit of core daily vocabulary in most communities is usually no more than 300 or so words. With that amount of vocabulary, students can talk about almost any aspect of their lives on up to the Intermediate-Mid level of proficiency. But writing a list like this is not necessary. These words come up often enough in interviews that most students will get them.

Here is a format for a Special Person Quiz. They can write as many sentences as they like, but the grade is cut off at 25 sentences. No one can get more than 100%, because too many students were getting 200% (not the worst problem to have for a teacher1). Special Person Quiz Form

Engaging Students With LA PERSONA ESPECIAL. Special Person is a popular and successful  activity in my classes that starts on day 1 of level 1 and continues for the rest of the year, and even to succeeding years in upper levels. It is a structured way of getting to know one anther in the target language. It’s using real language and real interest in real people. And the result is real acquisition.

Here are some examples of using Special Person interviews with the present perfect verb form–sometimes thought of as grammar for a higher level class. If it is comprehensible and interesting it can work: Special Person with Traditional Upper Levels

Little Pig  Some Pig!  This is a summary of a Person Especial interview that generated enormous engagement with students, so much so that I ignored my own guideline of adding no more than 5 new words per interview. A shy girl got to talking about her pet pig. We had no idea… !