Sunday, July 8, 2007

"What is small, round, green, and has tiny hairs all over it?"

Eve Ross - Beijing Institute of Machinery, China

I've been having good success teaching circumlocution with riddles. I start out with one of my own:

"What is small, round, green, and has tiny hairs all over it?"

When students have made a few guesses, I pull a tennis ball out of my bag.

Then it's the students' turn to create their own riddles. I tell them to start with "What is..." and use adjectives. They shouldn't use their dictionaries to look up words they don't know because after they've created the riddle, they're going to tell it to everyone in the class. And their riddle won't be interesting if they use English words that their classmates don't know. It's okay if the answer is a Chinese word that they don't know how to say in English.

Students DO NOT WRITE their riddles (I didn't make that clear to the students the first time, and they started answering each others' riddles by exchanging papers, reading the riddle, and writing their answer...Hello! ORAL English, please!).

However, students should keep a written count of how many of their classmates answer correctly/incorrectly. This is a fun way to keep track of how many classmates one has left to tell the riddle to, as well as to see whose riddle is the most difficult.

A couple riddles my students came up with:

1. What is small and red, but not round? You can eat it.
2. What is full when it works and empty when it rests?


(1. strawberry 2. shoes)

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