Folding Stories

This is something I used to do with my friends back home. It is best for levels from A2-C2. As the teacher, you should also take part!

  1. Give each participant a page with one sentence at the top (a different sentence for each sheet), such as: Bob had a problem at work./An old woman named Martha needed help./Sarah received an email with the best news of her life.
  2. Allow the learners to read their sentence and explain that they will write the next sentence under the original sentence.
  3. Then, everyone should fold the paper in such a way that only their sentence is visible.
  4. They then pass their paper to their left. When they receive the new sheet, they read the visible sentence (again ONLY THE LAST SENTENCE), they continue the story for that sheet.
  5. The process repeats for a certain period of time or until the sheets are full.
  6. Finally, the learners open the sheets and read their stories out loud to the group. Some of the stories will be quite funny, others strange, but everyone enjoys hearing them!

1-1 Adaptation: this exercise does not work for 1-1 situations at all. There need to be a minimum of 3 people who write.


One-Word Stories

This one is a little like “Fortunately, Unfortunately” in that the learners construct a story together. It’s not a specific use of vocabulary but can be used especially well for the past tense. Reviewing linking words could help. It really focuses on listening and syntax.

  1. Explain that the group is going to create a story and that each person will add one part (best if in a circle). Each person’s addition is to consist of just one word. Start the story yourself, e.g. Yesterday/Unexpectedly/In etc.
  2. The next person adds just one word to the story and it continues.
  3. You may choose to limit the story by saying the sentence should not end (hence the use of linking words). Or you can allow a sentence to end, but the person must use “period” to end the sentence.

1-1: This can also be used in 1-1 lessons as described above.

Chain Stories (8 Versions)

Chain Stories

Great for recycling targeted vocabulary, practicing speaking and listening skills.

Version 1

1. Participants receive blank slips, look through their notes/book for the last few lessons and write one word per card.

2. Collect the cards and redistribute (it doesn’t matter if they get their own cards back or not).  Give a few minutes for them to double check meanings using their phones/dictionaries/notes or the trainer.

3. Trainer also participates and should begin the chain story. For example:  Jeremy didn’t go to work yesterday because he had THE FLU.  The speaker then lays down the card.

4. The next person (going in a circle) adds to the story.  It must relate to the part of the story already told.

5. The activity ends when all the cards are finished.

Note:  The trainer may need to help with some meanings, or better yet, other participants help.  If the word is not used correctly or there is a grammar mistake, encourage the speaker to correct themselves, then ask for help from others and finally help them.  If some words occur more than once, that is totally fine.  More recycling!

Version 2

Instead of going in a circle, allow them to speak in the order they want.  The “winner” is the first person to lay down all their cards.  Allow only one card to be laid per turn.

Version 3

Allow more than one card to be laid per turn.

Version 4

Instead of distributing the cards, lay them all on the table face up and have them take one card per turn (going in a circle).  The game ends when all the cards are out of the middle.

Version 5

As in Version 4, but allow them to take turns in any order they wish.  The “winner” is the one with the MOST cards at the end.  Allow only one card per turn.

Version 6

As in Version 5 but allow several cards to be taken per turn.

Version 7

As in Version 5 or 6 but allow them to also STEAL cards that have already been used from other players!  Even more recycling takes place.

Version 8

As in Version 4, but place the cards FACE DOWN!

I often use the circular turn-taking version with groups that need more support and the other versions with stronger groups.  I repeat this exercise about once a month with a different version so it stays fun and lively with the group.