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Process Options for Training Sessions
by Judy Guttridge
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2. Another activity I have used in the classroom is what I call Strip Dictation. (I think it was invented by a group of colleagues on a British Council Summer School at Exeter in 1982.)

• The sentences (or even paragraphs) of a text are each put separately onto card to form 'strips'.

• The students are put into groups and sit in a circle. The number of students in the group depends on the number of strips composing the text (although this may vary).

• Each student receives a 'strip' of text. Each student must read his/her 'strip' silently, decide what it means, how to say it aloud, and, if possible, memorise it.

• Then in turn each student says his piece of text to his/her group.

• The apparent aim of the activity is to determine the correct order of the text and for the students to organise themselves to move and sit in the correct order of the text. This, however, involves clear speaking, attentive listening and making sense of what you hear, and finding links between 'strips'. There is also a lot of asking for repetition and thinking about meaning as well as language relating to the re-organisation of the group ('first', 'then', 'sit between student A and student D', etc.) and asking people to move places. Naturally, physical movement is involved. (Hope it will satisfy the kinaesthetic needs of NLP enthusiasts, or should I say kinaesthetic learners!).

• Usually I try to have texts which are not too long, as it risks becoming too lengthy an activity (7 or 8 people in a group, but this will also depend on level), and it is obvious that there must be a fairly clear logical progression within the text itself. Generally speaking, I prepare sets with different texts for more than one group.

• If there are too many people the extras can be part of the circle and, although they do not have a text to commit to memory, they can participate actively in the reconstruction of the text and of the group circle.

With the trainees I followed the same procedure, only in this case I chose a passage from Widdowson's Teaching Language as Communication (1978), which then became the basis for the discussion in the next part of the session, as well as the evaluation of the exercise as illustrated above. The trainees were experiencing a new procedure for Jumbled Reading while receiving input of a more technical nature. The activity is not complete without a similar reflective evaluation of the exercise as illustrated above at the end of the previous activity.

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