Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English

Running Dictation

Running Dictation

Imagine: It’s a beautiful day out. A day that, by all rights, should be reserved exclusively for picnics and frolicking. You walk into your classroom and it’s clear the students feel the same way. Here’s an activity that the students will remember for years.

First, you need some bit of text—a paragraph from a reading in your textbook, a dialogue on the theme, or something else.

You’re going to go outside, but before you do, explain the rules of the game.

Students will be in groups of three. The playground will be divided into three sections. The first student can only move in the first section. The second student can only move in the second section and the third student can only move in the third section.

The first student should read the text and tell the second student. The second student should tell the third student. The third student should write it down.

The first team to correctly write the whole text is the winner.

Notes: If that’s clear, you can stop reading, but here are some additional notes:

Before you go outside, you might draw something like this on the board

Book/Sun Hee–>


<–Sasha/Paper and Pen



<–Makiko/Paper and Pen


<–Hye Young–>

<–Pavel/Paper and Pen

Etc. Etc. Etc.

If you take a few chairs outside with you, then you could put the books and papers/pens on the chairs and insist that they stay there.

You might stay by the students with the paper and pens in order to say when they’ve finished or tell them if it’s not correct yet.

Or, you could make them just hand it in to you. If the first finishers have any mistakes, then they won’t win. The winners are the first ones to finish without any errors.

This was inspired by part of this lesson plan at the British Council’s fabulous site. Thanks!

August 25, 2010 Posted by | Lesson Plans | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love Stories

Liberty Meadows

This is another one-hour conversation activity. For an introduction to the series, click here. Enjoy.

Name: Love Stories

Prep Time: None

Materials: Clear white paper

Primary Objective: Discuss dating

Other Benefits: Improve sequential storytelling skills (First, then, after that, finally)


Pre-Speaking (20 minutes)

On the board draw a big box with nine square in it. Like this:










In the first square, draw stick figures of a boy and a girl meeting. Ask the students to describe what is happening.

Now, have a student come to the board and draw what happens next in the next square. Again have the students describe what is happening.

Repeat the process until all nine squares are filled.

As appropriate, write key dating vocabulary and expressions on another part of the board. For example, you might end up writing words such as: boyfriend, girlfriend, going dutch, to dump, to cheat, to get married, etc. It depends on the story.

When telling the story, emphasize words like “first”, “second” “after that”, “next” and “finally”.

Now, pass out a piece of paper to each student. Tell them they should create a box with nine squares and a place to write important vocabulary and expressions.

Speaking (30 minutes)

Have each student draw a picture in their first square. They should then show it to a partner. The partner should describe what’s happening. They should write any key vocabulary and expressions.

Then, they should pass their paper to their left. That person should draw the next frame and show it to their partner again. The partner should, again, describe what’s happening. They should, again, write any key vocabulary and expressions on the page.

Pass the papers around until all nine squares are filled in.

Post-Speaking (10 minutes)

Have the students come to the front and present whole stories to the class.


Give the students new sheets of paper. Repeat the process, but this time, instead of doing things chronologically, have the students fill in random squares.

Extension #2

Have the students discuss these questions:

Is it important for your boyfriend/girlfriend to have a lot of money?

Is it important for your boyfriend/girlfriend to be sexy?

Is it important for your boyfriend/girlfriend to be funny?

Is it important for your boyfriend/girlfriend to be smart?

What is the most important thing for your boyfriend/girlfriend to be?

Where is the best place to go on a date? Why?

What is the best age to get married? Why?


Ideas for Homework: Have the students visit They should search until they find a comic about dating, print it, and bring it to the next class.

Modification for Lower Levels: At the beginning, ask the students for things that can happen when dating. On the board, write: You meet. You go to a restaurant. You see a movie. Ask them for more suggestions. Then have each student write ten more things on their own. Then, ask for more suggestions and write them on the board. They can use these when deciding what to draw and how to describe it.

Modification for Higher Levels: Bring in some dating comics at the beginning. You can find them by browsing Discuss their meanings and why they’re funny.

Modification for Small Groups: The post-speaking won’t really work because everyone will have seen everything. Just be ready to do the extensions.

Modification for Private Lesson: Before the class, make a complete comic on your own as an example. With your student, create two comics, trading squares back and forth.

Modification for Different Themes: Just make sure you can tell a story around your theme. It’s easier to do this if the students can draw easy things (like stick figures). Themes like dating work best. But, travel could also work well. Anything is possible, but something like nature might be tricky.

July 28, 2010 Posted by | Conversation Lesson Plans, Lesson Plans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment