This warmer/lesson filler exercise is a missing word dictation which will get students laughing.


  • To allow higher-level students to process language.
  • To encourage thinking skills as well as listening and writing.
  • To help create a positive and energetic classroom mood through laughter.


  • Tell the students you have a cough today but you are still going to do a dictation. If they don’t hear words, they will just have to guess what you said.
  • Read out a joke like the one below and dictate as usual but don’t read all the words – cough instead of saying certain words e.g. Eleven people were *cough* on a rope, under a helicopter, ten men and one *cough*.
  • Students have to guess what the missing words are and write them in, either individually or in pairs.
  • After checking whether they guessed correctly, they could discuss the joke and why/if they found it funny.
  • They could also try telling jokes they know in their mother tongue in English.

The joke

Eleven people are hanging on a rope, under a helicopter, ten men and one woman. The rope is not strong enough to carry them all, so they decide that one has to leave, because otherwise they are all going to fall. They are not able to name that person, until the woman makes a very touching speech. She says she will voluntarily let go of the rope, because as a woman she is used to giving up everything for her husband and kids, or for men in general, and is used to always making sacrifices with little in return. As soon as she finishes her speech, all the men started clapping their hands.