This activity is a variation on the age-old activity ‘Whispers’ aka ‘Chinese Whispers’ aka ‘Broken down telephone’. I have played it with intermediate adults and upper intermediate teens, both of which groups met with good old reported speech this term. Both groups responded well. It provides controlled spoken practice of direct speech – reported speech and vice versa conversions and encourages students to subsequently reconsider what they have said and check it for accuracy.
- Put students in groups of 3
- Student 1 whispers something to Student 2 (it can be helpful if you feed in a few examples at first, to get the students going)
- Student 2 whisper reports it to Student 3.
- Student 3 says out loud what they think Student 1 actually said, based on Student 2’s report.
- Student 1 confirms or repeats out loud what they originally whispered.
- Student 2 explains how they reported it and why (particularly if the message got lost)
- Together, the group decide if they were correct according to ‘the rules’. (with teacher help where needed)
The only preparation required is the handful of examples that help set the activity up.
For further (written) practice:
- After they have played this game you could get the students in their groups to write down as many direct speech sentences as they can remember from the game.
- Students then swap papers with another group.
- Groups then work together to convert the sentences from the group they have swapped papers with into reported speech.
- The groups then swap back and correct the other group’s conversions of their sentences. Of course the teacher monitors closely during both game and follow-up, providing help and feedback as appropriate.