Chinese Whisper Dictation

As we celebrate Christmas on January 6th, I planned this lesson for my young learners for tomorrow.


The lesson is for A1 students

  • Divide the class into two.
  • Ask students to make a row in from of the board.
  • On slips of papers, write short sentences and give it to the one at the back.
  • Tell him/her to whisper the sentence to his/her friend so that he/she passes it to the one in front of him.
  • Continue till the first person in the row.
  • The one in the front row will write the sentence on the board.
  • Check mistakes.
  • Then the one in the front row goes at the back.
  • Repeat the process until all the students come to the first row to write the sentence on the board.

I learned an activity similar to the one above at a drama workshopI attended  last week. In that one, the instructor, showed us a picture and wanted us to make a sentence and write it on papers left for us. We even discussed to create a story that way but my 4th graders are slow learners and need a lot of practice and guidance. I want to try this one first and then maybe in a second attempt I can ask them to write their own short sentences.

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Describe …


Here are some activities you can use when teaching descriptions.


Agree on a list of 5 people known to students

Dictate words and phrases which describe the people chosen

Students write the descriptions you dictate beneath the name of the person they think is referred to.

Rights/ Wrongs

Choose something to describe.

Tell students to divide a piece of paper into 3 sections as right, wrong and neither right nor wrong

Dictate a number of short statements.

Students write each short statement beneath a suitable heading.

Running picture descriptions

Divide the class into groups.

Place a picture on your desk or on a wall.

Student A from each group goes to the picture to look at it carefully then goes to his group and dictates what he sees. He can go to the picture as many times as he wishes.

My dream holiday

Display 10 postcards of holiday destinations.

Tell students to walk around and choose a postcard.

Tell them to return their seats and write a short letter to a friend telling their visit.

Ideal Holiday Destination

Display 10 postcards of holiday destinations.

Tell students to walk around and choose two postcards.

Tell them to return their seats and write a short letter to a friend telling which will be an ideal destination for their next holiday.






is a fat black woman

walking the fields

pressing a breezed


to her cheek

while the sun lights up

her feet



is a fat black woman

riding the waves

drifting in happy oblivion

while the sea turns back

to hug her shape

Grace Nicholls

Since Jeremy Harmer read this poem at Istek-elt this year, I have been searching for it. I knew I had it somewhere in my files and at last I found it.

I love this poem for many reasons.

So here is a sample lesson plan but I’ll be glad to hear ideas from you.

  1. Ask students to finish the statement ‘Beauty is —–‘
  2. Write all the words on the board and prepare a word cloud.
  3. As Jeremy Harmer suggested do wall dictation dividing the class into teams.
  4. Ask students to read the poem and discuss the followings.
  • ‘Beauty is in the eye of beholder’
  • fashion, idols, same kind of people everywhere.
  • first impressions
  • physical differences and bullies
  • Is it really important to be beautiful?Why?

5. The poem is great for practising participles and time clauses. Write      the  skeleton of the poem on the board and ask them to write their own poems

Beauty is a/an+adj+noun

Going somewhere

Doing something

While something else is happening

I really want to use this poem next year in one of my lessons. And here is mine


is a little angle

running in the school yard

in her strawberry cake coat

playing with her friends cheerfully

while my eyes watch

thinking how beautiful she is



is a little girl

wearing thick glasses

admiring her friends

running in the yard

while her mum watches her

thinking how beautiful she is.


seksekI realised I mostly wrote about quick games, fillers or warmers that may help the teachers to motivate the students or change the phase or the pace of a lesson.

I believe these activities are great to present and practice a new language. During the activities, students will be more involved, enthused and eager to do or finish the activity and the teacher will look more friendly, approachable and cheerful.

I’m sure the experienced members of my PLN will have more to add to the followings but let’s say this is kind of an introduction for the new comers to the ELT world.

Games and game like activities


  1. Tongue twisters: these are great challenges and also good for pronunciation and memory.
  2. Find someone who: You can use this activity anytime you want during the lesson, as a warmer for presenting or awareness-raising or at the end of a lesson as a filler to practice the target language.
  3. Puzzles, word games: these are good for vocab revision. I also ask my students to create their own puzzles then they exchange the puzzle and try to solve the ones their friends prepared. If you want they can prepare them in pairs or groups.
  4. Charede: this one is my favourite. It can be used as a filler. Team them and tell them they will compete. Usually we play charde with grammatical structures such as If clauses, time clauses or relatives. Once they code certain things and get the rule they easily guess the sentence. Plus they mime and have fun.
  5. Yes-No Game
  6. Line up according to: This is a good warmer and also works well to group your students for the next activity. You can line your students according to the seasons they were born in or the fast food they like or the shoes they are wearing. The alternatives are endless. Just use your imagination.
  7. Stand up if: This one is also a great warmer, filler or energizer. Shout out sentences and tell your students to stand up if the statement is correct for them. You can change the instruction and say, for instance, touch your nose if you agree and jump if you disagree.
  8. Associations : give 2 object, which looks completely different and ask them to find the similarities.
  9. How can we use it other than: Give them an object, say a paper clip and give them time to list what else we can do with a paper clip apart from attaching paper.
  10. Tic-tac-toe: you can use it to practice and revise vocabulary and grammar points.
  11. Dictations
  12. Shake hands: This is a great activitywith lots of laughter and action.Play some music and tell your students when you stop the music they will greet each other as you instruct. Instruct your students as follows:
  13. Greet each other as two close friends
  14. Greet each other as neighbours


  1. Guided Fantasy: it is great after a hard day’s work, just relax, close your eyes and imagine…. You will find lots of ideas in  Imagine That by J. Arnold,H. Puchta, M.Rinvolucri .
  2. Sentence completion: good for feedback and/or evaluation.
  3. Memory games
  4. Flash dictations.
  5. Wall dictation


  1. Puzzles
  2. Miming
  3. Chinese whispers
  4. Hot seat
  5. Vocabulary match to find the new partner
  6. Bingo
  7. Tic-tac-toe
  8. Hang a man
  9. Find someone who: Find someone who with words and definition. Find someone who can define ‘a word’. / Find someone who can use ‘this particular word’ in a sentence. / Find someone who knows a synonym or antonym for ‘this word’


  1. Find someone who
  2. 20 questions
  3. Kim’s game
  4. I went to the market and I bought
  5. Stand up if

Food for thought


If you are also about to finish the school year and need something else other than your course material, quotes are always good  for wonderful activities.

What can you do with them?

1. Write some of them on pieces of paper and stick to the walls and do wall dictation.

2. Jumble some of them and ask them to unjumble.

3. Play hang man or charades.

4. Ask them to choose one and illustrate it and prepare a poster.

5. Ask them to create a slideshow, using moviemaker, animoto, photopeach, bookr.

6. Tell them to create word clouds.

7. Brainstorm ideas and ask them to write stories in groups.

8. Let them create glogsters.

9. Don’t forget to discuss them.

10. Ask them to choose a favourite and give reasons.

Some quotes to begin with

We become ourselves through others. Lev Vygotsky

Hope is good breakfast but it is bad supper. Francis Bacon

Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand but we must build as if the sand were stone. Jorge Luis Borges

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. Confucius

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Einstein

Some people should start up ideas and other ones should carry them out. Jimmy Hendrix

A teacher can but lead you to the door, Learning is up to you. Chinese Proverb