Matching activities are as old as the hills. Sometimes it seems that some coursebook writers just can’t resist asking students to link a word to its definition, or to reunite two halves of a sentence, such as this example from a recently published coursebook.
As an activity, it doesn’t exactly thrill me. It’s very functional and helps the student to connect ideas, but it’s also very rigid and doesn’t give the student an opportunity to work on creating their own, more personally relevant sentences.
The problem isn’t so much with the actual task, but with the idea undergirding it. Personally I’d rather see these activities used as warmers, acting as a fun quiz to engage learners in the subject. Here’s an example I found in a back issue of Wired magazine recently that could make a great intro to a lesson on town and cities.