OK, I couldn’t resist a lesson about Donald Trump – he does have a way of making reported speech great again 😉
With my FCE group, we were doing a review of reported speech, reporting questions and reporting verbs. Having elicited in the previous lesson the changes which take place when using indirect speech, the first activity of the lesson looked at reporting verbs – namely categorising them into their patterns, such as RV+object+infinitive, and so on. As I said, this was a review session and learners had already seen reporting verbs previously and done more controlled practice exercises with them. After feedback on the reporting verbs, I told the learners that we’d come back to them later and put a wordle on the board:
To be honest, they didn’t really even need time to confer with a partner as the lexis was familiar and it was fairly obvious who the words related to! I then set up a listening task using Sean Banville’s famouspeoplelessons.com and gave the learners the following numbers to listen out for: 1946, 45th, 324th, 70/7/6. After listening they had a couple of minutes to share with a partner what they had understood the numbers related to – again, not too tricky, though it did throw out the word ‘wealthiest’ which they were unfamiliar with, but understood in the context.
I could have done more with the listening – and indeed, Sean prepares a wide variety of tasks to do for each of the autobiographies he presents – but I got the sense that nobody was particularly interested in learning more about the 45th President of the United States…there were some stony faces around the classroom just at the mention of his name!
So, we moved onto the next stage and I asked the learners to write three questions they would like to ask Donald Trump, any three questions. They were quite creative and I was surprised that some of them were using more emphatic language in their questions, like:
“Does your wife actually love you?”
“Do you really think the USA can survive without immigrants?”
Whilst they were writing their questions, I’d written up a quick review on reporting questions on the board, with a couple of examples which we went through together. I then put them in different pairs and set up the freer practice activity. I explained that they were journalists who had interviewed Trump and were going to report back on how the interview had gone. They had to work together to re-phrase their questions into indirect speech and then write Trump’s answers, including at least three of the reporting verbs we’d seen at the start of the class. Although this is an activity they could have done individually, I found that they were able to support each other more working together – correcting each other as necessary when writing indirect questions and chatting about what his answers would be.
All in all, that took about 60 minutes and a similar activity could be done for any famous person – I found that using someone who the learners were less keen on meant that they wrote more creative questions, but the plan could work equally well with another celebrity. You could also adapt the plan for lower levels by just focussing on reporting questions and indirect speech (He said…) rather than using reporting verbs.