Presentations and group feedback for intonation practice, Chindogu-style

Levels: strong pre-intermediate to advanced.
Scope: teens; adults.
Type: working with unusual inventions; giving presentations.
Skills: listening; speaking; reading; writing; pronunciation (showing positivity through intonation patterns); public speaking.
Language focus: vocabulary – register for public presentations; all other vocab and grammar points as they arise.

Preparation: Copies of these 12 chindogu inventions (one invention for each group of three students), and paper and pens.


  1. Pair your students and ask them to mind-map ideas for a successful presentation – ask them to think about body language, clothes, intonation, and attitude.
  2. Explain that you want to practice giving presentations, as it will help students understand appropriate formal English and body language, and give them intonation practice.
  3. Divide the students into groups of three and give out copies of the Chindogu inventions (see below); ask them what they think these are. Explain that they are all types of Japanese inventions (if you want, you can explain the meaning of Chindogu, which is “unuseless,” and is the art of inventing amusing things that have a not-quite useful function, and which are not for sale). Ask them what they think their purpose is – after a few minutes, you can do a whole class feedback on this, helping them discover what they are.
  4. Ask the students in their groups to choose their favourite invention – one per group.
  5. Elicit what these are and make sure everyone has chosen a different invention.
  6. Explain that each group will be asking the class for money to fund these inventions – money raised will go towards the costs of manufacture and marketing. Tell them not to worry, as the class is very rich – however, only one group will be able to get the money. Make sure students understand that they will be presenting their ideas to the class, and that they will win by giving the best presentation.
  7. Let the students get on with pricing manufacture costs and marketing costs, and with preparing their presentation. Go round and monitor, get them to practice their spiel to you, whilst you check their intonation, pausing, use of gestures, and language. Tell each group they are welcome to draw on the whiteboard if they like; and make sure they understand they must all try and speak for the same length of time – this will give them more points, and points mean prizes.
    8. Stop them after about 10 – 15 minutes; draw the following table on the board and ask students to copy it in their notebooks (you might want some spare paper for this):

    Body Language












  8. Explain that they will be marking each student’s part of the presentation out of ten (body language/ intonation) and giving a mark out of ten for the group’s idea. Say that this will be used for feedback at the end, and they shouldn’t say the scores if they are uncomfortable with it – get a class decision on this (it must be unanimously in favour of giving scores, else the scores should be kept secret and just feedback – positive and negative – should be given).
  9. Ask for volunteers to start first, or spin a pen to find the first speakers. Allow about two minutes for each presentation.
  10. At the end of each presentation, make sure the listening students score the speakers and their idea – allow them no more than a minute each time for this; and let one of the speakers choose the next group to speak.
  11. After everyone has spoken, and the scores have all been given, conduct a whole class feedback, asking each group to give feedback (perhaps including scores, perhaps not) to the others about body language, intonation, and their idea.
  12. Finally, ask each group who is getting their money (they can’t decide to give their money to themselves!) – the group with the most votes gets the cash. If there’s time, conduct some gapfill feedback on the board, where groups can get points for correct answers to the gapfills (you should number each gapped sentence and ask for corrections in random order, to promote careful listening – give a point to whoever answers first correctly, and encourage the more reticent groups to speak out). The gapfills should be based on good things students have said, that you want to share with the class, or with things the students meant to say, and would have if their English had been more precise.

Describing Body Language – IWB lesson

Levels: strong intermediate to advanced.
Ages: teens; adults.
Type: matching exercise; watching and listening to a video of tight-rope walker Philippe Petit to discuss ideas about body language and how status and feelings are conveyed by native and non-native language users; optional interactive whiteboard downloads.
Skills: speaking; listening; reading; writing.
Language focus: vocab – parts of the body/ describing body language.

Note: the idea of the body language table comes from Listening by Goodith White (Oxford Resource Books for Teachers: 1998).

a SMARTboard interactive whiteboard and a download of this lesson (if you don’t have a SMARTboard, you can try this pdf version of the worksheet pages);
pens and paper;
video one and video two (from youtube);
if you want, you can download these videos via keepvid – simply enter the URL in the searchbox at the top of keepvid’s page and press enter, then right-click on the “download high quality” option near the bottom of the new page – then add them as an attachment to your interactive whiteboard lesson).


  1. Show the first page of the IWB display and give students five minutes in pairs to try and match the adjectives with parts of the body.
  2. Ask students to come up the board and try and match the adjectives by dragging them with their fingers to the appropriate parts of the body.
  3. Let the students agree on the order; when they have done so, check by showing them page two.
    Show the students page three and ask if they know who Philippe Petit is. If they haven’t heard of him, point to the picture and ask what they think he is like: a thief? a criminal? a scientist?
    Play the students the video below (taken from youtube) and explain that this is what Philippe Petit does.

  4. Elicit vocabulary from students – “tightrope walker/walking,” “a highwire artiste,” etc. and that there is no safety net or harness. Ask them what they think of this spectacle – is it art? Is it vandalism? Ask them if they would like to try a tightrope walk.
  5. Draw an outline of the World Trade Center on the board and elicit from the students what it is. Draw a rope between the towers and ask them if they would walk between the towers.
  6. If you like, you can show students this video, which shows Philippe Petit’s famous walk between the twin towers in 1974.

  7. Explain that Philippe Petit was recently the star of an Oscar-winning documentary, Man On Wire, about his walk between these twin towers, and that the students will now watch an interview with him. Ask them how old they think he is now and how they think he will describe himself – will he be boastful or modest? What adjectives will he use to describe what he does? What do they think his body language will be like?
  8. Play the third video (below) and elicit the answers.

  9. Show the fourth page and ask your students to copy the table. Explain that you’ll play the interview again, and this time they should watch out for the body language used by Philippe Petit, his director and the interviewer. What can they find out about these people from their body language? You can show page two of the IWB lesson to remind them of the words used to describe this body language.
  10. Play the third video a couple more times and allow students to write notes in their copy of the table.
  11. Ask students to compare notes in small groups; then check and give feedback with the whole class. Were they surprised by any of the interactions? How much could they tell about the people from their body language?
  12. Possible follow-up: This lesson naturally leads into job interview-style lessons, or group roleplays (for example, the banana game, which also focusses on intonation patterns).

Games with Gapfills

Levels: elementary to advanced.
Ages: kids; teens; adults.
Type: enlivening gapfills.
Skills: reading.
Language focus: revising vocabulary and grammar.

Note: the ideas for most of these activities come from Jim Scrivener’s excellent Straightfoward Pre-Intermediate Teacher’s Book.

The One-Minute Gap Fill

This can cause a few laughs from students. Present the gapfill in the usual way, but set a strict time limit of one minute for students to complete it; after this time, stop the activity and ask your students for their reactions. Was it impossible to complete? Was it OK? Negotiate with them a slightly longer time limit and offer a small prize (e.g., a paperclip) for the student who fills in the most gaps correctly. Students can check in pairs before checking with the whole class.

Correct the Teacher

Either board the answers in front of the class and invite them to correct your mistakes (make about three or four errors), or prepare a completed gapfill task with some errors; give one copy per student or pair of students, and invite them to make corrections. Note that this approach can also usefully be done with longer writing tasks.

Teacher Dictation

This is a good way of combining vocabulary or grammar gapfills with listening and writing practice.

Board the symbols for playing, stopping and rewinding a tape machine, elicit “play,” “stop” and “rewind” and get your students to say these commands loudly.

Tell your students that you are a tape machine and that they can control you by saying any of the three commands above. Say that you have a short dictation to give them and ask them to write down what you say. Explain that it’s a gapfill and that they should draw a long line when they hear you beep, whistle, or whatever sound you want to make. Start dictating the gapfill when students shout “play,” stopping when asked exactly as a tape machine would – even mid-word. It is important to listen for the students’ instructions (which can be encouraged by pointing to the tape machine symbols on the board) and obey them exactly.

Team Competition

This can be fun for longer gapfills.

Divide your class into threes: As; Bs; and Cs.

Ask As to write the missing words in multiples of three, starting at sentence one.

Ask Bs to write the missing words in multiples of three, starting at sentence two.

Ask Cs to do the same, starting at sentence three.

They can mark the sentences they will complete before they start the activity if they look like they might get confused.

Negotiate a time-limit (e.g., three minutes) with the students before starting the competition.

After three minutes, stop the activity and put the students into groups of three: one A, one B and one C per group. Each group checks its members work; then check as a class. Award a foolish prize for the team with the most correct answers (e.g., draw an animal on the board and invite the winning team to name it).

Using Word Search Grids

Levels: beginner to advanced.
Ages: older kids; teens; adults
Type: vocab revision; games
Skills: spelling (writing).
Language focus: revising vocab.

Materials: a word search grid on a familiar coursebook theme for each pair of students (a crime one is here); a blank word search grid (here).

Preparation: photocopies of the two grids.

This is a good vocabulary revision exercise, wherein students focus on word recognition and spelling.

I usually start by pairing the students, eliciting “vertical,” “horizontal” and “diagonal,” “forwards” and “backwards,” and giving them an existing word search grid, then set a strict time limit (e.g., five minutes) to find as many words as possible.

I then give the students a blank, 13 x 13 square wordsearch grid and set the homework: find ten words from the coursebook unit last studied, and make their own word search grid using those ten words. I usually say that words can be written horizontally, vertically or diagonally, and forwards or backwards, to make the grid more challenging. You might also want to ask your students to come up with an example sentence for each word.

The next day, students can either complete one another’s grids if they’ve all done the homework, or (more likely) work in teams, using another team’s grid, in a race to try and find all the words. Before beginning this activity, I often draw a whale or other animal in a corner of the board, which the winning team gets to name, and which stays on the board for the rest of the day.

Once a team has finished their grid, they can challenge another group to write a story or dialogue using eight of the words they’ve discovered.