Two quick dictation warmers.
Level: Pre-intermediate - advanced
Time: 20-25 minutes
Objectives: To review weekend activities and news stories
Key skills: Speaking, listening
Materials: Paper for each student, pens, board, board pens, device for recording students (optional)
Weekend whispers: Procedure
1 Ask students to write on a piece of paper four (preferably exciting/interesting) things they did at the weekend. This gets students thinking about what they did and will also give students something at the end of the game to check against.
2 Put students into circles and tell them to partner up with the person next to them.
3 Students put away their piece of paper and tell their partner what they did at the weekend. Tell them that they have a five minute time limit, and each person MUST say all things that they did.
4 Time the students and remind them when there are only three minutes left.
5 When time is up, say ‘STOP!’ Students now partner up with the person on their other side and tell their new partner what their previous partner did at the weekend. Stress to the students that they need to talk about their partners’ weekend NOT their own weekend. Set the same time limit.
6 When the time is up, students turn back to their original partner and tell them what their second partner did at the weekend. Set the same time limit.
7 When the time is up, ask the pairs to exchange places with each other.
8 Turning to the person on their other side, students need to tell that person about their weekend (‘their’ being the person being spoken to, not the student themselves). That student listens and compares it to the original on the piece of paper they wrote at the beginning of the activity. Repeat.
Note: This is not a whispering game! You must have an even number for this activity to work, so if you don’t, the teacher may want to join in to even things up. A minimum of six and a maximum of eight students is recommended in a group. It can work with four, but it’s not as interesting. Ten is too many for this activity.
Making news: Procedure
1 The procedure is the same as the Weekend whispers activity above, but at the beginning give each student a short news story. These can be found in the news in brief section of your local newspaper or from a free app or website such as BBC news.
2 Follow the procedures above up to stage 5. After the students have read their story, make sure you take them away. By this point each of the original pairs should know about all of the stories. Get pairs to discuss which story was the most interesting, the most memorable, etc.
Extension: Put the students into ‘editing teams’ who then have to choose what they believe to be the best three stories for a radio news network. Tell them to think about what kind of radio station they are working for. Each team has to re-write the stories using whatever information they can remember (don’t let them have the original stories). Students can add to the stories if needed.
Record each of the teams giving their version of the news then get them to write a few comprehension questions for their stories on the board. Play all of the news stories for the students in the class while they answer the questions.
Notes: This is a good activity to use on days when the news is being taught, to introduce the listening activity or as a bridge between reading and listening. It can also be used as a warmer or even (with the extension) as a stand-alone lesson.