Activity 26: Guess the Mime

▶ Duration:  20–30 min
▶ Aim:  Oral fluency practice
▶ Summary:  Students mime sentences which their group tries to guess.

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Students work in small groups. They are supplied with cards and they have to communicate the information on the card to their group members without speaking. The other members of the group can speak, however. What they have to guess is not just a single word or concept—that would be a test of vocabulary rather than fluency—but instead a scenario with some degree of complexity. Thus, the group has to negotiate the meaning, one person using mime and the others using English.

Prepare slips of paper with the scenarios written on them, and make enough (identical) sets so that each group can receive one. Or better yet, although a bit more difficult to manage, is to split the cards into smaller sets according to difficulty. At the start of the activity, give the easiest set to all the groups. Then when a group finishes that set, swap it for a more difficult set. Since some groups will be quicker than others, not all the groups will finish every set. However, you will be able to give all the groups time to finish the current set before stopping the activity, rather than having to stop them when they still have unused cards left (or waiting until every group is finished, which would leave the faster groups with nothing to do). Make sure the different sets are easy to distinguish! For example, secure them with different coloured paperclips.

You also need one or two scenarios to mime yourself, to demonstrate the activity.

See the Resources section for examples. If you adapt this activity to a different theme, please post your ideas in the Comments section.

First explain the situation. For instance, in the Hotel Reception example explain that you are a guest at a hotel but you have a bad cold and cannot talk. You have come to the front desk because you want the receptionist to do something for you. Tell the students to guess what your request is, and then mime it. Doing this demonstration is very important, not only to explain the activity to the students, but also to introduce mime into the classroom. Miming can be a bit embarrassing, especially if the students do not know each other well, and unless you make a fool of yourself in front of the class first, you cannot expect them to make a fool of themselves in front of their peers!

Next explain the activity: student work in groups of four. You will give each group a set of cards. Students take a card, but do not show it to the other members of their group. They have to communicate the information on the card without speaking. Their group members have to guess the information on the card—not word-for-word, but just the idea. Remind them of the situation (for example, hotel reception) since guessing the mime will be a lot more difficult unless they keep this in mind. Check:

Hand out the sets of cards. If you have split the cards into several sets according to difficulty, you do not need to explain this at the start of the activity. Just be ready to swap the sets when you see that a group has finished.

This activity, and the hotel reception scenario, is based on activity 109 "Hotel Receptionist" described in Friederike Klippel's Keep Talking (Cambridge University Press 1984).

Hotel Reception

The situation: a guest who is staying at a hotel has a bad cold and cannot speak. They want the receptionist to do something for them. A point to note is that the cards are not declarative sentences but rather requests.

There are 12 different cards, and they are arranged into 3 sets according to difficulty: hotel_mimes.doc (html preview). Groups of 4 students are ideal for this activity. An example to use for the demonstration is: "The television in my room is broken. Please send somebody to look at it."
Rating: 4.5 stars

A lot of fun. However, it might not be a good idea to try this activity until the students are comfortable with you, and with each other.

When I did this activity, I came to class with a scarf around my neck and pretended I couldn't speak. I got the students to guess "I have a bad cold and I can't talk". When I finally said "just joking" it usually provoked quite a roar from my students!
06.10.2004 , 09:36

i will study hard
michael886 []
19.03.2005 , 22:36