Reported speech – report the mime

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I have to admit to being a great fan of ‘The Big Bang Theory’, watching the endless reruns on Spanish cable TV and still laughing at the gags. So I linked this love with a post I read recently by TEFLgeek about practising reported speech and hit upon this variant for practising reported speech.

The exercise hinges on the fact that one of the characters in ‘The Big Bang Theory’, Raj, is completely incapable of speaking with women. Whenever he wants to speak to a woman, he whispers what he wants to say into his friend, Howard’s ear. Interesting, Howard rarely reports what Raj actually says, often answering Raj or commenting on what he has said instead. At other times, he says nothing, or makes a strange whining noise.

The exercise has two parts. In the first part, students are shown clips of Raj attempting to communicate with women. In pairs, they then decide what Raj actually wanted to say, and report it to the class, using the reported speech structures they know. Here is an example clip that you can use.

 

After they have practised with a few clips, move on to the second phase of the exercise. Here, students prepare a statement or question which they want to express, and in pairs either mime what they want to say or have one whisper to his / her partner and the partner react as Howard reacts. Other teams then have to guess what the pair want to say and reproduce it in reported speech.

I hope you have a lot of fun with this activity in class.

Related articles:

Speaking activities (page)

Speaking activity: Mission Impossible!

Speaking activity: Would I lie to you?

Speaking activity: Jigsaw dictations

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The Best Sites For Grammar Practice | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

Here’s a great post from Larry Ferlazzo on online grammar practice resources for students.

The Best Sites For Grammar Practice | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day….

 

Mystery photos – modal verbs for speculation and deduction

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Here’s a quick exercise to introduce the topic of using modal verbs to express speculation and deduction. The key objective is to activate previous knowledge, which may or may not have been formally taught.

At the beginning of the session, show the students the picture above, and give them a couple of minutes to think of sentences about it in pairs. Then have the students share their sentences with the rest of the class. You should write their sentences on the board, reformulating if necessary.

mystery photo

Organise their answers so that factual statements are on the left-hand side of the board, and any speculative sentences are on the right, but at this stage don’t explain this division. If your students run out of ideas for this picture, show them others, such as the one on the right. You can find other pictures here.

Once you have a good selection of sentences on the board, ask the class why you have organised their answers on the board as you have. Depending on the previou knowledge of the class, you may have some sentences which use modal verbs correctly, and you can use these as a base for reviewing the necessary structures. In any case, you have sentences which have been created by the students to serve as model sentences, which makes the lesson more personal and so more significant for them.

As a follow-up exercise, I ask students to find and bring to class photos of interesting-looking people . I mount these on cards on the wall, then students write speculative sentences on post-its or on slips of paper and stick them around each photo. For this activity, it’s best to avoid photos of famous people. Adverts in magazines can be a good source of pictures. Here’s one which would work well (although it’s not a photo).

Heads Up English | ESL Lessons – Early Graduation

http://www.headsupenglish.com/index.php/lower-intermediate-students/lower-intermediate-news-lessons/lower-intermediate-education-lessons/461-early-graudation

Speaking Activity: Mission Impossible!

English: A mechanical kitchen timer

This speaking activity is designed to help your students to revise their written work and improve their critical reading. It is quite a flexible activity, and can be used as a warmer or as a prize at the end of a lesson, or it can form the basis of a lesson in itself.

  • Explain to the students that they are going to create a story as a class, but that the exercise is timed. (I like to play the music from ‘Mission Impossible’ to introduce the lesson – this introduces a sense of urgency.) The time limit depends on the level of the group. I usually use five minutes to begin, then reduce the time as they become more familiar with the game.

  • The timing can be done with a stopwatch on a computer, if possible projected so they can all see the time, or with an egg-timer, preferably one with a loud tick. In any case, they students should have some object which they can pass to indicate whose turn it is, representing the bomb – if they are not passing an egg-timer, a ball will do, but they should pass it carefully, not throw it!

  • The first student is handed the bomb and is told to be very careful! Their task is to dictate the first sentence of a story to the teacher, who will write it on the board. Write what the student says, without judgement, but do not put the full stop until you are satisfied that the sentence is correct. You should not tell the student where the errors are – they must find them and correct them with the help of the rest of the class. Once the sentence is correct, the student can pass the ‘bomb’ to the next student, who has to continue the story with the next sentence.

  • The students each take a turn to add a sentence to the story being created, until the time runs out (the egg-timer rings, or the timer on the board / computer sounds – try to chose a fairly strident sound if possible). The student who is working on his / her sentence when the time finishes is eliminated.

  • If you play several rounds of this game, it is a good idea to make the final round a ‘Zombie’ round, in which only the people eliminated take part. This brngs them back into the lesson, and gives them a second opportunity. I find that they are normally much more careful when revising their work than the first time around.