This is more of a warmer idea this
week. Have you ever wondered about the contradictions in terms
like 'found missing', 'alone together', 'small crowd' &
one of my favourites 'Microsoft Works'? Have your students?
These terms are called oxymorons.
As the Collins English Dictionary says, they
are 'an epigrammatic effect, by which contradictory terms
are used in conjunction: beautiful tyrant; found missing.
(via New Latin from Greek oxumÇron, from oxus sharp
+ moros stupid)'
A way of looking at them in class: Choose
which oxymorons you want to look at & write them on the
board - but make sure the individual words are jumbled up.
The students have to find pairs of words that make an oxymoron
- & then discuss whether they agree that it is a valid
As a follow up you could get the students
to invent a story using a number of the oxymorons & then
discuss how they are translated into their language(s).
A way to review some vocab, introduce some
collocations & have some fun with the language.
For a list of oxymorons
to the contents
Strangers on a train
This is an excellent activity to
promote oral fluency practice & specific language practice
at the same time.
Get the students to imagine they are strangers
in a train compartment - get them sitting opposite each other
in groups of four. Elicit what people usually talk about on
the train - the weather, where they are going/coming from
etc. Tell them you are going to give them a line to memorise
& that it's secret - give them out, students memorise
& you take them back in.
Then explain what they have to do - to say
their lines as naturally as they can in the conversation without
the others guessing it is their line. So they have to direct
the conversation so that they can say their line naturally,
without the others noticing. They must have one conversation
& not split into two as the others will miss their lines
when they come to say them.
The lines you give them could contain a language
item that you have recently been looking at or off-the-wall
sentences (eg. My girlfriend sleeps in the garden). I had
to do this in a Spanish lesson when I first started learning
the languiage & my line was 'yo tampoco' - 'me neither'
- so I had to wait for a negative to say my line.
At the end the students then tell each other
what they thought were each others' lines. It's an activity
that you can use again & again & it's lots of fun!
to the contents
A communicative drill?
Is their such thing as a communicative
drill? It seems a contradiction as drills tend to be repetition
practice while communication is unpredictable.
Put in an 'information gap' & a 'communicative
purpose' & you have a pseudo-communicative drill. Here's
an example for practising the past continuous interrupted.
Set up a gory murder situation - Jeff was murdered at 7 o'clock
last night & the students are going to find out who it
was - they are police people. Each student has the name of
a murder suspect & the suspect's alibi on a piece of paper.
The students have to mingle & exchange information - e.g.
'What was Peter doing at 7 o'clock last night?' 'He was watching
TV with Jim.' The students fill in a chart & when completed
they will be able to see who the murderer is - the communicative
The completed chart after the
Charles - at the pub with Sam
Sam - at the pub with Charles
Jim - watching TV with Peter
Peter - watching TV with Jim
Sarah - at home alone
John - at the cinema with his girlfriend
Bob - with Sarah
Can you work it out - who has the weakest
alibi? Change the names to fit those of your students - lots
To see the 'Providing
a communicative purpose' Tip.
the Past Teaching Tips