Using Text Messages to teach English – Part 2 ‘Following Instructions’

The lesson

In this lesson I used ‘text messages’ to give students questions that they had to answer in pairs. They left the classroom and went out into the surrounding environment and received messages from me at three minute intervals. I made sure that each group got a different message. I managed this, in the business sense, by writing down the numbers of each question, one to eight, next to each team name and crossing out each number as I sent the messages.

The Rationale

Yes, it’s nice to send text messages that students read on their phones but it wasn’t so much the technology that I wanted students to communicate with, rather, each other. Students had to talk to each other in English to accomplish many of the tasks, and actually answering the questions correctly was not as important as talking to each other to find it.

Here are the rules

–         You must stay together.

–         You must answer all the questions

–         You can find out the answers anyway you like.

Here are the questions that were sent

  1. Go and find a book from the library with the word ‘fish’ in the title, write the name and author.
  2. Find a joke in English. Write it down.
  3. Get onto the internet. What is the temperature in your country today?
  4. Find out what films are on the TV tonight. Write them down.
  5. Tell each other something you’ve done that you’re proud about. Write it down.
  6. Have a chat together about something. Write down what you chatted about.
  7. Teach each other an English word that you didn’t know before. Write them down.
  8. Find out the principal of your institution. Write their name down.

How did it go?

– students loved the tasks. By putting outgoing students with slighly more shy students they were able to complete the activities well.

– Some quick students said that three minutes was too long to wait between each text message.

There was a lot of cheating, which for us was good. My students live in the target language and so any speaking with local people they means they are improving their English. This might not work so well where students live in a country where people don’t speak the target language.

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