Show and tell

esl show and tellShow and tell is one of those great activities that motors along under its own steam without needing much direction from the teacher. I really enjoy being able to sit back and listen to the students’ stories, jumping in when there are difficulties or adding appropriate vocabulary. If there are grammar points which need addressing I would make a note of them and go through them after the activity.

Students should be informed prior to the lesson that they should bring in something to talk about. It can be anything as long as there is a little story behind it being important to the student. Inevitably some people will turn up without an object, ask them to think about whether anything they have in their possession at the moment has some meaning to the student. Usually, an item of clothing or something in the student’s wallet has a deeper meaning than might first appear. In the worst case scenario, the student can describe and talk about something they would have brought in if they hadn’t forgotten or misunderstood the instruction.

I like to start the class with a couple of activities.

First I brainstorm and write on the board words that can be used to describe generic objects. For example, thing,item, stuff, tool, souvenir, trinket, conversation piece, contraption, thingamabob, watchamacallit, accessory,etc. We talk about the meaning of the words and think of examples of each.

Next play a game of picture taboo, this is a nice way to warm students up and hopefully practise a bit of the vocabulary from the previous step.

Now you’re ready for show and tell. I let this activity run very freely. Students produce their object and talk about why it is meaningful to them, then the other students ask any questions they have. Don’t try to restrict or limit the conversation other than making sure that everyone gets a turn and that you have time left for anything you want to talk about at the end.

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