Image challenge - The tallest, the longest, the fattest

Image challenge - week ten

It's good  to come back to old books sometimes and read them over and over again. Every time I take a look in the book Images by Jamie Keddie I find something interesting. This time I spotted a great activity and decided to give it a try. Well, you won't believe it but it was a success in every age and level group - kids, teens and adults. That's why, I decided to share it with you and encourgae to try it in your classroom.


This week Image Challenge is connected with the Guinness Book of Records. Find three interesting stories of people who have broken some record. I have chosen the following ones:


Age: 12+

Level: pre-intermediate+

Vocabulary and expressions to pre-teach:

With less advanced groups write down the words: I'm not sure but I think..., Perhaps...., It seems that........etc.
These are some of the words that my students needed while inventing questions: beautician, grow nails, paint the nails, nail polish, disgust, have in common, stand out from a crowd, fame, put on weight, pick your nose, scratch, bend, bump, bite your nails, brush/comb your hair, ceiling, peel banana, use toilet, point at somebody, sponge, addicted/addiction, set a record, break a record etc.

Warm up – guessing game

Print out three pictures of people who have broken some record. Stick them to the whiteboard so that the students can't see what it is. Tell them that you have 3 pictures and they have to guess who or what it is. It can be a person, an animal or a place. 
Students keep guessing: I think these are the pictures of sportsmen./ Perhaps these are objects from the kitchen. Students often try to make some connection with the previous lesson(s) or the topic.
Of course, it’s quite difficult to guess but you should keep them in suspense. After a while, give them a hint and tell that all those pictures present people and that they have something in common. What kind of people can be in the pictures then? Further discussion. Finally, uncover one of the pictures and let your students guess. You show the picture with the tallest man, for example and ask: Who is in the picture? Who do you think is in the other photos? Keep them talking. At last, show all three pictures. Students may be surprised or disgusted, as in the case of a woman with the longest nails. My students wereJ (this part shouldn’t be longer than 5 min)

Stage one – 5 -10 min

Class discussion. Pictures should be chosen in such a way that they provoke a discussion, students want to make a comment and you should just control the use of a language.
Ask your students the following questions:
1.Why do you think people want to be in the Guinness Book of Records?
2.What kind of people decide to take part in such competitions? (personality adjectives)
3. Have you ever tried to set a record in something? /What was it?
4. Have you ever broken a record? / What was it?
5. Would you like to try it? Why? Why not?
6. Do you know anybody who did it? What was it? Etc.

Stage two - 10 min

Imagine that you are from all the most popular tabloids from all over the world: The Sun, the Daily Mirror etc. I’m sure, you have some in your country, too. You were given the chance to carry out an interview with those people. Write two questions to each of them (you can ask about anything you want). If the class is big, it’s enough to invent one question to each person. If it is smaller, more questions are needed. (in one group my students were convinced that we were really going to ask questions, by Skype or other communicator and it was really funny as they did they best inventing questions)
We all know that questions are one of the most difficult structures in English and it’s always problematic for our students. Monitor them, help with the structure as well as vocabulary. With less advanced students knowing only the basic structures, I would write down the patterns – the beginning of the sentences:
Can you….? Do you…? Are you….? How often do you…..? Did you…..? Have you ever….?
With more advanced groups, I told them that they can’t use general questions, only detailed one: When was the last time you…..? Is it true that you……..? Here are some questions invented by my students:
1.How long have you been growing your nails?
2.Have they ever broken?
3.When was the last time you were outside?
4.How big bed do you have?
5.Can you drive a car? Have you ever tried it?
6. Do you have a girlfriend?
7. How do you feel when people point at you on the street?
8. Do you wear a bra? J
9. Your nails look like Wolverine’s claws! Have you ever scratched or stabbed somebody with them?
10. What is your shoes size? Etc.

Stage three – 15-20 min

Now, choose one person and ask him/her to sit under the picture of a selected person. Give instructions: Imagine you are this fat man and decided to give an interview. Try to be creative and answer all the questions the journalists are going to ask you. For the first person, I always choose the most creative student from the class, with a sense of humour to show others how to do it. The other students ask questions one by one. There are, of course, extra questions that come up during the interview. As you can see both sides have to be very creative. And there is a lot of fun during this exercise. Then you choose another student and you repeat the task with another record breaker.

Stage four - 5-10 min

You can discuss with the class who was the most creative in answering questions. You can also ask them who they really would like to see live and why. Variation: Ask you students to check in their mobile phones the real stories of the interviewed people. For example, how long her nails were or how heavy the man was etc. I played a few short films from you tube about the people, as well.

For me, the most important in this activity is that students really get engaged and want to talk and find out the facts about these people. Just three pictures can help you run an exciting conversation class. Hope you enjoyed it and going to use it with your students.


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