Side by Side

The Competition

Two students of a similar age/year level sit/stand side by side and hold a conversation by asking and answering questions about any topic using familiar language that has recently been explored in class. The conversation must be filmed, which can be done using a device such as an iPad/iPhone and the assistance of a tripod or a third person filming.

The conversation needs to be spontaneous and should sound as natural as possible. This is an opportunity for students to apply the language structures that have been practiced previously, but in a slightly different context/with an unfamiliar speaker/unpredictable question order. Language fillers, error correction, survival phrases and repair strategies are allowed and tolerated in order to sustain interaction. Access to written notes and scripted / rote learned dialogues are discouraged. Emphasis should be on meaning making and language fluency, rather than language accuracy. The task should be student led and teachers act only as facilitators by providing the scenario/context that is familiar to what has been learned in class and by pairing like-leveled students to do the task. The Side by Side conversation can be implemented during class time or as a homework task. Suggested scenarios:

  • Two strangers sitting on a park bench, greet each other and exchange personal information such as their name, age, where they come from, family and interests.
  • Two school students are sitting in the playground, eating their lunch.  They exchange information about food and eating eg contents of their lunchbox, likes/dislikes, habits around food, offer to share etc.
  • Two strangers sitting on a bus. One lives locally, the other is a visiting tourist from the target language country. They exchange travel information (where they have come from, where they are going, their travel experience and plans for the next few days.
  • A journalist interviewing a famous celebrity from the target language country. The celebrity is asked about their childhood, likes/dislikes, influences, fan-base, experiences and aspirations.
  • At a doctors surgery, a conversation between doctor and patient. The doctor asks the patient about their well-being, eating and fitness habits and provides health advice to the patient.

Time limits include:
PP – Year 2:              30 seconds
Years 3-4:                  40 seconds
Years 5-6:                  60 seconds
Years 7-8:                  90 seconds
Years 9-10:                2 mins
Years 11-12:               3 mins

Before entering the competition, students should read the Code of Conduct advice.


Second language learners. Students must be attending a Western Australian school.Please note: Background and first language learners are encouraged to participate in the Let Me Tell You a Story, Let Me Tell You in My Language competition.

The students’ teachers must be members of the MLTAWA.

Categories / Languages

Age categories: PP-Yr2, Years 3-4, Years 5-6, Years 7-8, Years 9-10, Years 11-12

Language categories: Arabic, Auslan, Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Aboriginal Languages, and Spanish.

Teachers/schools can only submit one entry for each language and year category. For example, if a primary school offers French, they can only submit 3 entries: French PP-2, French 3-4 and French 5-6. If a secondary school offers Indonesian and Italian from 7-12, they could submit up to six entries: Indonesian 7-8, Indonesian 9-10, Indonesian 11-12, Italian 7-8. Italian 9-10, Italian 11-12.


The winners of each age and language category will receive a Winner’s Certificate, a $10 iTunes voucher and trophy for their school.

Winners will be invited to attend an event during Term 4 to receive their prize and will be notified via email by 2 October, 2022. Videos of the winning submissions may be screened at future MLTAWA events and/or posted on the MLTAWA website, MLTAWA YouTube channel and the Languages in the Mainstream Facebook page.

Judging criteria

Each submission (ie. the conversation between the two students) will be judged on:

  • Language deployment ie spoken spontaneously and naturally
  • Sustained interaction in the target language
  • Fluency ie. the ability to maintain a flow, even if it requires use of repair strategies (eg “what I meant was”), survival phrases (eg “sorry could you repeat that”) and fillers (eg “um”)
  • Pronunciation and intonation

Each submission is judged on the language skills of both students and therefore should involve two students of a similar ability.

Submission process

Teachers/schools make the submissions. Submissions must be in a .M4V, .MP4, .mov or .avi format and uploaded to the Submission Page. The submission page is only accessible to MLTAWA members, so please log-in to submit your entries.

Submissions must be accompanied by a scanned copy of a signed Declaration Form for each student appearing in the videos. The declaration forms can also be uploaded to the submission page.

All competition submissions are bound by the Languages in the Mainstream competition Terms and Conditions.

Key Dates

22 September      Side by Side competition submissions due.

2 October         Winners and their schools (teachers/principals) notified and invited to attend a prize giving event in Term 4.


Related documents and resources

Side by Side Competition Poster Print out and display at your school.

Declaration Form

Code of Conduct

Terms and Conditions

Enquiries: [email protected]