Riddles for the English classroom


I’ve just found these old riddles on my hard drive and thought I’d share them. Oh and Nik Kershaw’s The Riddle is a class eighties tune – especially if played loud!

Click here for the PowerPoint show https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/riddles-for-the-english-classroom.ppt

They’ll provide a quick bit of speaking practice for pre-intermediate to intermediate EFL, ESOL or ESL students and you’ll need to have an Interactive whiteboard or a projector to show the PPT show.

Put your students into pairs and ask them to discuss the riddles one by one before you reveal the answers. You might also find that students have their own riddles they would like to share with you and the rest of the class.

I can’t remember where I found all of these, but three of them (numbers 3,7 and 8) come from the amazing and seminal English teaching book ‘Challenge to Think’ by Christine Frank, Mario Rinvolucri and Marge Berer’ first published in 1982.

Here’s the ppt file again https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/riddles-for-the-english-classroom.ppt

for more of the same visit


The Google Translate Challenge

Language students routinely turn to the web to do their translating and there’s not much better than Google Translate. It effortlessly handless data and will translate into different scripts like Arabic and Russian, it can even translate some idiomatic phrases. It’s still a long way from being perfect, however and it gets a lot wrong.

I wanted to see if my human students could do better that the automated, super fast machine that is Google Translate. Here’s what I did.

1. I found a simple story, wrote it out in English and then pasted it into Google translate. I then translated it into the languages that my ESOL students can speak, Swahili, Arabic, Polish, Russian, Latvian, Hungarian and French.

2. In class, I handed students a copy of the story in their language and asked them to try and translate it into English. If there were two students, I asked them to team up and try to translate the story together. I told them where I got the translations and that there might be some mistakes in, but they should try to translate it the best they can. Also, before they started I pre-taught the word ‘worth’ and gave them some example sentences, this word is the key to the whole story.

3. As a group, I now asked them to shout out their translations, sentence by sentence before I showed them a copy of the real story in English.

Here’s the story I used and a link at the bottom to the translations from Google Translate.

Joe and the rich man

Joe was in a bar when a rich man came up to him.The rich man looked very healthy and sun tanned. He wore an expensive black suit and a silk tie.  He looked at Joe with a frown.
“How much do think I’m worth?” said the richman.
“I don’t know,” said Joe.
“Come on, guess how much I’m worth.”
“Okay,” said Joe, “I think you’re worth $100”The rich man laughed.
“Ha, that’s just the priceof my suit.”
“I included that in my answer,” said Joe.

Here’s the link to the translated versions:  https://chrisspeck.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/the-google-translate-challenge.doc

Quick Stories #2 – The workman and the beggar

The workman and the beggar

One day a workman was up on the roof of his house mending a hole in the tiles. He had nearly finished and he was pleased was pleased with his work. Suddenly, he heard a voice below call.
When he looked down, the workman saw an old man in dirty clothes standing below.
“What do you want?” asked the workman.
“Come down and I’ll tell you,” called the man. The workman was annoyed, but he was a polite man, so he put down his tools carefully and climbed all the way down to the ground.
“What do you want?” he asked when he reached the ground.
“Could you spare a little change for an old beggar?” asked the man. The workman thought for a minute. Then he said, “Come with me.”
He began climbing the ladder again. The old man followed him all the way to the top of the house where he had been working. The beggar was red faced and tired from the climb. When they were both sitting on the roof, the workmen turned to the beggar.
“………………………………………………” he said.