Bearing this in mind and as often as possible, I put different and somehow unexpected language activities into practice – either in the classroom or out. Why not?
Anyway, this time the challenge was a RUNNING DICTATION (running in English as sts mockingly put it). The school year was coming to an end and the weather had been great. Yes, why not? It would be much nicer than sitting still inside the classroom.
After choosing the activity, my concern was now the text, or to be more precise, the song. Some colleagues / friends emailed me some suggestions (Thank YOU), I googled a bit, I saw many youtube videos but I always stumbled over language problems – the texts were far too difficult for them and I feared the final result could be demotivation instead of having fun and learning / remembering some English. So, I finally made up my mind for an old time favourite “Friends will be Friends” by Queen, which is certainly questionable but, being adults, I believed they would also enjoy it but, above all, they would feel pleased for having understood something, for recognizing the text. And it worked! It worked not only with the learners but also with some colleagues I invited to take part in this running dictation.
As for the activity itself, here are the steps I followed:
- I split the lyrics into two parts and printed several copies in A3 sheets;
- Not to disturb other classes, I went out and placed the copies at eye level on the school building;
Now, with the group:
- I put the learners and colleagues into pairs and for health and/or language difficulties, it was easy to decide who the writers and runners would be;
- The runners’ task would be to run to the A3 sheet and memorize a chunk of language / a sentence, go back to the partner and reproduce it to him/her; the writers’ task would obviously be to write down chunk by chunk till all the sentences had been reproduced;
- The winners would be the first pair to complete the task.
Check for yourself – not only the running dictation but also the meal!!!
Yet that wasn’t the end of it! No, no, no!!!!
Next class, I took a worksheet with the full text / lyrics, we listened to the song and some even sang along (myself included) and we practised some vocab on the topic FRIENDSHIP (always important is to provide an opportunity to use and apply language and knowledge)
Do try a running dictation – it’s a funny activity and it practises the four skills: reading, speaking, listening and writing – not to mention memorizing!
This famous painting by Pablo Picasso can be used to introduce or extend the topic of friendship as well as some cultural data; loose words can be used to make sts look up for the meaning (in case they don’t know them yet) so that they can have lists of vocabulary (English / Portuguese) and lead them to the topic. Ask them to add some more, elicit previous knowledge.
(NOTE: if you wish my materials, please send me an email and I’ll be glad to share)