Cold reading

Introduction:

This is a great reading activity I have done with my advanced and proficient students and without a doubt one of my most memorable activities. Unfortunately the activity doesn’t work with just any class. You have to make sure the group is just right; ideally the students are relatively new and aged 15-24.

Level: C1

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To read a description of one’s personality and decide how accurate the description is.
  2. To read a description of another student’s personality and try to identify who the student is.

Materials:

  1. Personality reading PDF (adapted), one per student (Source: https://www.secrets-explained.com/derren-brown/cold-reading)
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6uj1ruTmGQ

Procedure:

Stage 1:

  1. A week or two before the class tell students you would like to try something different with them. It works better if you revise personality adjectives before the class too.
  2. Ask each student to take a piece of paper and draw an outline of their hand, write their date and time of birth at the top of the page and a name of an object that is not immediately recognized as theirs.  When the students have finished ask them to fold the papers, mix them up and hand them to you.
  3. Tell students you are now going to try and write a description of their personality based solely on the information they have provided. Tell students you will try and be as specific as possible and that it will take quite a long time for you to finish all the descriptions so they must be patient. The first time I did this activity my students waited a month for me to “complete” the descriptions and couldn’t wait for me to finish.

Stage 2:

  1. Print Personality Reading PDF and make as many copies as there are students in your class. The readings are all exactly the same so sometimes I change the font and the colour to confuse the students slightly if the happen to sit next to each other and see another classmate’s reading.
  2. Before you hand the students the papers tell them you have tried very, very, very hard to be specific and you would like them to read the descriptions carefully and to honestly tell you at the end how accurate they think you were.
  3. Sit the students as far away from each other as possible and tell them to use their phones/dictionaries to check the meaning of new words.
  4. When the students have finished give each student a post it note and anonymously ask them to rate the accuracy of the description (1%-100%). You don’t want the students to be influenced by others when the rate their description.
  5. Collect the post it notes.
  6. Now ask the students to mix all the descriptions and try to identify the classmates based on the description they now have.
  7. After a few minutes students will look confused. Ask them to shuffle the papers again until pretty soon they will realize all the descriptions are exactly the same.
  8. Students’ reactions to this experiment are priceless and I have even had one student return to my school a year later asking for a copy of the reading.
  9. Explain to students that it is a technique called cold reading and it is often used by psychics and astrologists. At the end show students the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6uj1ruTmGQ

Related posts:

Who are you?

Interactive reading class

Who are you?

Introduction:

This is a fun activity for students to revise personality adjectives. Students match the adjectives to their antonyms, decide which adjectives apply most to them and look for classmates whose answers are either identical to theirs or very different.

Level: B2+

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To revise/ introduce adjectives describing personality.
  2. To decide which adjectives apply most to students and give examples.
  3. To compare students’ choices with other classmates.

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

  1. Who are you Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. In pairs ask students to tell each other what personality types they get on with best and what personality types they just can’t stand.
  2. Elicit some answers from students.
  3. Hand each student a copy of Who are you? Worksheet and tell them to cover up the words at the bottom.
  4. Individually ask students to provide antonyms to the adjectives in the first column.
  5. When the students have finished ask them to compare with their partner.
  6. Next students look at the antonyms provided at the bottom of the page and complete the table.
  7. Check as a class.
  8. Individually now ask the student to consider each pair of adjectives and choose the number (1 to 5) closest to the adjective they feel applies most to them. Number 5 applies to the adjective in the first column and 1 to its antonym in the third column.
  9. Once the students have finished, put them into pairs and ask them to compare their choices with their classmates and provide specific examples where their numbers are identical or very different.
  10. Change pairs two or three times to give students a chance to compare their answers with as many classmates as possible.
  11. Ask students to give examples of unexpected answers they received whilst interviewing their classmates.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to pick three positive and three negative adjectives from the table that best describe them and justify their answers to their classmates.

P.S. “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Seuss

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Mirror Mirror on the wall…

MEOW!

Wanted

Know thyself

 

Can’t stop dishing out idioms

Introduction: 

These are activities for students to introduce and practise furniture & fixture idioms. Students complete the sentences with the missing words, decide if the definitions of the idioms are correct and do a Find someone who activity with their classmates.

Level: C1

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce furniture & fixture idioms.
  2. To complete the sentences with the missing words.
  3. To decide if the definitions of the idioms are correct or incorrect.
  4. To interview other students and try to get answers to as many questions as possible.

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

  1. Can_t stop dishing out idioms Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Write down the missing words from Exercise 1 on the board and in pairs ask students to tell each other if they know any idioms containing those words.
  2. Elicit some answers from the students.
  3. Hand the students Can’t stop dishing out idioms Worksheet.
  4. Individually, students try to complete the sentences in Exercise 1 with the missing words.
  5. When the students have finished, they compare their answers with a partner.
  6. Check the answers as a class.
  7. Now, individually again, the students decide if the definitions of the idioms in Exercise 1 are correct or incorrect (T = true, F= false).
  8. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner.
  9. Check the answers as a class.
  10. Next, using the bottom half of the worksheet (Exercise 2), students mingle asking questions and trying to get affirmative answers from their classmates, e.g. Is your sister a couch potato? If the other student says ‘yes’ they have to justify their answer to the interviewer and give an example or two, e.g. She spends 23 hours out of 24 on the sofa. She never does any exercise. Allow no more than 3 minutes for each interview. When the time is up ask students to switch partners.
  11. When the students have had a chance to ask everyone’s opinion, ask them how many affirmative answers they managed to get and which answers surprised them the most.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to describe their ideal partner using at least 5 of the idioms studied, e.g. My ideal partner would have a memory like a sieve and quickly forget if I did or said something he didn’t like.

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There is no place like…school

You make my heart BEET 😉

Somewhere over the rainbow 

It’s game time

Zzz

Nothing changes if nothing changes

The proof is in the pudding

MEOW!

IMG-20170101-WA0032

Introduction: 

This is an activity to introduce and practise animal idioms. Students describe 10 animals, complete the expressions with the missing adjectives and complete sentences about themselves.

Level: B2

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of animal idioms.
  2. To complete the sentences in Exercise 2 with the missing adjectives.
  3. To complete sentences containing animal idioms individually.

Materials:

  1. MEOW! Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Elicit different animals from students and write them on the board, e.g. tiger, dog, donkey, etc. and in pairs ask them to think of the characteristic traits of these animals, e.g. as fierce as a tiger.
  2. Hand out a copy of MEOW!! Worksheet and ask students to individually complete Exercise 1.
  3. When they have finished, ask them to compare their answers in pairs and justify their choice if it is different from their partner’s.
  4. Students then complete Exercise 2 individually, before comparing their answers with their partner.
  5. Check together as a class.
  6. Students then complete Exercise 3 individually.
  7. When they have finished, students swap their sheets with their partner and read each other’s answers.
  8. When the students have finished, ask them to circle 4 new things they have found out about their classmate from Exercise 3.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to write down the name of professions they associate with the expressions they have learnt, e.g. stubborn as a mule: English teacher, etc.

MEOW! Worksheet

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Mirror Mirror on the wall…

Wanted

P.S.  Nakotek. A little birdie told me it was your birthday today. Have an amazing day.

Mirror Mirror on the wall…

Introduction: 

These are activities for intermediate students to introduce vocabulary describing body, face and hair. Students categorise words into groups, draw a picture of their classmate and write a brief description of themselves for comparison.

Level: B2

Time: 55 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce vocabulary describing body, face and hair.
  2. To draw a picture of a classmate.
  3. To write a brief description of a student’s own physical appearance.
  4. To find similarities between the students’ drawings of their classmates and the classmates’ description of themselves.

Materials:

  1. Mirror Mirror on the wall…Worksheet A, one per student.
  2. Mirror Mirror on the wall…Worksheet B, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Show students several images of celebrities and elicit some words to describe their physical appearance and write them on the board e.g. short, tall etc.
  2. Put students into pairs and hand each student Mirror Mirror on the wall…  Worksheet A.
  3. Go through the words as a class to make sure the students understand meaning and pronunciation.
  4. In pairs, students complete Exercise 1.
  5. Monitor and provide feedback.
  6. When the students have finished, hand out Mirror Mirror on the wall…Worksheet B. In pairs, students must draw each other in the frame provided. Make sure the students don’t look at their partner’s pictures until you tell them so.
  7. When the students have finished, they now briefly describe their physical appearance using at least 7 new words from Exercise 1 of Mirror Mirror on the wall…Worksheet A.
  8. When the students have finished, they must compare their description of themselves with the drawing made by their partner and try to find 3 similarities and 3 differences. For example, In your drawing I have a round face but in my description I wrote that my face was oval. I have long wavy hair in both the drawing and the description.
  9. Ask students to share with the group how many similarities and differences they managed to find.

Fast finishers / homework: 

  1. Individually, students complete Exercise 2 of Mirror Mirror on the wall…Worksheet A.  When finished, they compare their answers with another classmate.

Mirror Mirror on the wall…Worksheet A

Mirror Mirror on the wall…Worksheet B

Related Posts:

Wanted

 

 

 

Wanted

Introduction:

This is a fun activity which allows students to recycle and learn new vocabulary related to clothes and appearance.

Objectives:

  1. To increase speaking fluency.
  2. To practise descriptions of appearance and / or clothes.

Procedure:

  1. Put students into groups and ask them to brainstorm adjectives describing appearance.
  2. Feedback: add new adjectives to students’ lists e.g. chubby, curvy, muscular , plump, presentable , scruffy, etc.
  3. Introduce the idea of reliable memory. Ask students if they think memory is reliable and if they remember e.g. what they were wearing last week. Tell them to shut their eyes and ask them questions about other people in the class e.g. what colour is Sara’s coat etc.
  4. Divide the class into two groups – police officers (A) and witnesses (B).
  5. Give the witnesses a picture of a person in a detailed background location. It could be a picture cut out from a magazine or a picture of a family member or even the teacher. They have 1 minute to look at the picture and memorise it.
  6. Put police officers and witnesses into pairs and tell the witnesses they have witnessed a crime and they saw the suspect. They must try and describe the suspect as accurately as possible to the police officer in front of them. The police officers’ job is to write down the details given by the witnesses.
  7. Allow three to four minutes for the interview and then ask the witnesses to move to another police officer and repeat the statement. Once the police officers are finished they compare their notes on the suspect’s appearance with the original photo. If there are few differences the suspect will be brought to justice.
  8. The students swap roles and repeat with a different image.

Fast finishers/ homework:

  1. Students design ‘Wanted’ posters and write a detailed description of the suspect based on the notes they made during the interview. They bring their descriptions to class and ask the “witness” to read the statement and confirm that the information is true and correct ( it allows students to recycle the vocabulary yet again whilst role playing )
  2. Students could also compare the two suspects and write sentences e.g. Suspect 1 is not as chubby as suspect 2.
  3. Encourage students to watch a fascinating Ted talk about the fiction of memory http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_loftus_the_fiction_of_memory

P.S. A quick thank you note to my friend Alex. Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to offer feedback and share your ideas.