Textual Cohesion Mingle

Level: pre-intermediate to advanced.
Ages: teens to adults.
Type: class mingle; text reconstruction; choral and individual pronunciation work on conveying emotions; group- and pair-work.
Skills: sentence grammar awareness; speaking; listening; writing.
Language focus: sentence-level grammar; textual cohesion.

Materials: some paper and pens; a short text of about 5 – 6 sentences (a 50-word story would work well – see here for an example – or a short, future coursebook text).

Preparation: reformat the text so each student can get half a sentence. Mix up these sentence halves.

Note: this activity would work best with classes of 10 – 12 students.

Procedure:
1. Class mingle

  • Give out the sentence halves.
  • Ask your students to mingle and find out what the other students have. Their task is to stand in a line from first to last, in the order they think the text will be in.
  • When your students are ready, ask them to raise their hand when they hear their sentence-half. Then you read the text aloud.
  • Ask your students to change places if they are standing in the wrong place. If necessary, read the text aloud again.

2. Optional pronunciation stage

  • Whilst your students are standing, elicit some adjectives describing feelings (angry, sad, happy, elated, …). Choose one emotion and ask the first student (with the first sentence-half) to say their sentence in that style. Repeat the sentence-half back to them, making any changes you wish to really show the chosen emotion, then ask all students to say the same sentence-half, really trying to show this emotion.
  • Repeat this procedure with each sentence-half, selecting a different emotion each time and going down the line of students. After you’ve repeated each sentence-half, ask your students to repeat it together in exaggerated emotional style.
  • Finally, assign each student a different emotion (or ask them to choose a different emotion each, or assign emotions in blocks of 3 students, so you have 3 annoyed students, then 3 surprised ones, etc.) and ask them to say their sentence-half in turn, each trying to show their different emotion. Invite them to enjoy exaggerating the emotion in their voices.
  • You could ask them which emotion they think would be most appropriate for this text, or to imagine (and share with the class) why they were feeling this emotion as they were reading.

3. Rewriting stage

  • Pair your students with the person on their left or right. Ask them to sit together with their sentence halves. Ask them to work with their partner to write the text they heard, using their sentence halves as a memory aid. Set a short time limit for this activity (say 4 – 5 minutes).
  • Divide each pair into A and B students. Ask Bs to stand up and move one group to their left. They should bring their sentence-half, but not the text they were writing.
  • With their new partners, ask Bs to check the work in front of them, working together to make any changes they want to make.
  • When your students are ready, ask them to read their sentence-halves aloud again. Students who are listening should mark (underline, asterisk, etc.) any differences with their text.
  • Nominating different students, elicit and board the original sentences, eliciting corrections from the class as necessary. Discuss any differences between the students’ text and that on the board.

4. Writing follow-up

  • Elicit what kind of text you have boarded (e.g., a short story, a letter, a news article, …).
  • Ask students to think of either what happened before this text or what is going to happen next.
  • Elicit possible styles to convey what happens next (e.g., an email, a dialogue, a poem, another bit of story, etc.) and ask the students to work, together with their partner, to write either what happens next or what happened before.
  • Monitor this activity, helping students as necessary to generate content (I usually ask closed questions – how many people are in this story? Is it inside or outside? Night or day? etc. – and tell students just to say the first thing they think of, even if it seems obvious, until they have built up enough details for a story), or to help with language (but don’t interrupt your students when they’re busy writing!).

5. Sharing stories

  • When they have finished writing, put each pair in a larger group of 4 – 6 students, sitting in a circle if possible.
  • Ask each pair to read their stories aloud to the other groups, who should listen and mentally give a score out of 10.
  • When each pair has read their story, ask the group to choose their favourite story to read aloud to the other group(s).
  • If you did the pronunciation focus above, now would be a good time to ask your students to think about how their character is feeling at each different moment in the story, and how they want their listeners to feel. They could practice conveying these emotions, while you listen and give some feedback, before reading the story to the other group(s).
  • Listening groups can think about, and write notes on, everything they liked and didn’t like about the spoken text. After each text has been shared, listeners should share their notes with each other, and then with the class. While the listeners are sharing their notes with each other, you could ask the speakers what they liked about the text and their performance, and if there is anything they would change if they could repeat the activity.

6. Homework idea
You could ask your students to write up either what happens before the prequel they wrote, or what happens after their sequel to the original text.

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