A Bird in the Hand

Level Aims Grammar Time Materials
senior high school to Adult To get S/s thinking in and about English any 40 mins 3 copies of a story cut into strips; tape; 10 sheets of paper.

Divide the class into teams of four. At the beginning of the class, before you give any explanation of what the class is about, stick the strips of the story to the walls and window frames of the corridor and balcony. Make sure that students don't bother other classes by using good judgement in your placement! Give each team a sheet of paper, and tell them they have 1 minute to choose a 'Scribe'. The Scribe will be the only one to write anything, and they will remain seated AT ALL TIMES.

The other students will be the story 'Reporters'. Their job is to find the pieces of the story on the strips of paper stuck around the room, memorise them, and then dictate them to their Scribe. It might be advisable to tell the students just how many strips make up the story (in our example there are 5, but this is arbitrary), depending on their ability. When all the sentences have been reported, the students must work together to figure out their order.

This is a very successful activity, and the students actually speak English. Cater the story/passage to the level of your students a passage out of their reader texts would be a good place to start looking for something suitable. Use a passage they have yet to cover, and write it out in more simplified language. Any of (sop's fables similarly adjusted would also be good fare.


Omit the moral of the story and ask the students to figure it out for themselves. Or leave it in (in simplified form, e.g. "Don't be greedy"), and ask them to put it into their own words and/or then into Japanese.

Give the students questions about the story which they must answer instead of having to put sentences in order. (See Discovery)

Teaching Tip

Take a candle into the classroom for 'R' and 'L' pronunciation practice, after the manner of Professor Henry Higgins in 'My Fair Lady' (although he used it for 'H' practice). The candle will flutter or go out when an 'R' is pronounced correctly, but will remain unmoved (or should) when an 'L' is pronounced.

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