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Whispers

Writer(s): 
Stephen Templin, Kakio High School, Kanagawa Prefecture

QUICK GUIDE

  • Key Words: Pronunciation, Listening
  • Learner English Level: Low Intermediate to Advanced
  • Learner Maturity Level: Jr. High School and above
  • Preparation Time: About twenty minutes
  • Activity Time: 10-25 minutes

I use Whispers as a fun way of providing feedback on pronunciation and listening to Japanese classes of about 40 lower to upper level high school students. this activity takes approximately 10-25 minutes.

Preparation

First, write about ten sentences on one sheet of paper using sounds you have already taught or will teach. For example, if you want to review minimal pairs such as /i/ and /I/, you could write something like the following:

  • Eat it.
  • The eel is ill.
  • He's in his car.

Make one copy of the paper for each row of students; if there are six rows, make six copies. Next, with scissors cut the paper of sentences into strips, one sentence on each strip. To store the sentences, paper clip together all strips containing the same sentence, and put all the paper-clipped bundles into an envelope. If you had 10 sentences on the paper, then there should be 10 bundles in the envelope.

The Activity

  • Divide the blackboard into sections, one section for each row. Each row of students is a team.
  • Choose a bundle of sentences from the envelope and hand one strip to the last student in each row. For example, give the last student in each row the same sentence, "The eel is ill." Tell them not to show anyone the strip of paper. Quietly, the last student in each row must say the sentence to the student sitting directly in front of them.
  • Each student quietly says the sentence to the student in front of them until the first student in each row receives the message.
  • The first student in each row must write the sentence they heard on the blackboard in the space provided for their row.
  • The rows of students who have written the correct sentence receive a point.
  • The last student in the rows bring their strips to the teacher and receive the next strip.

Suggestions

Here are some suggestions to help the activity go more smoothly: Remind students to speak softly so they do not pass information to a student who is not on their team. Take away a point if students cheat. After giving the points, ask the first student in each row to erase the board. To maintain the pace of the game, give an extra point to the first team with the correct answer.

Although I correct spelling, I award a point for a correct sentence containing a misspelled word, unless the misspelled word is a different English word. The goal of this activity is giving students feedback by showing them on the blackboard what they said and heard. Opposing teams will be eager to give feedback, too, especially when sentences like "The eel is ill" somehow turn into sentences like "This is a pen." Enjoy!

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