So I’ve just decided to start a series of articles on $4MT dedicated to the classics. No, not Homer or Aristotle or none of them cats–I’m referring to classic English teaching activities that every teacher has probably used (or could probably use) and which in my own experience I’ve made use of time and time again.
The first one is in this series is that oldie but goodie: “I saw you…”
I first came across this activity in the classic 700 Classroom Activities by David Seymour and Maria Popova (MacMillan English). Its purpose is mainly to practice using narrative tenses.
In the 700 Classroom Activities version, they provide the instructions and some prompts for the students to use in the activity. To wit:
In pairs, imagine you saw your partner doing something interesting. Take turns to ask and answer questions to find out more, e.g.
A: I saw you yesterday afternoon. Why were you staggering?
B: I was staggering because I had just walked into a lamppost and had concussion.
*** crying, being arrested, covered in paint, wearing a wet suit, laughing, running after a mule, sleeping on a bench, carrying a sink, climbing a tree ***
This is a great pairwork activity that can be used with nearly any level (well, from pre-intermediate and upwards), and can easily be fitted into almost any lesson using almost any lexical set. All that’s needed on the part of the teacher is enough imagination to create situations that are either so humorous or ethically questionable as to require explanation or justification. (In fact, the title that Seymour and Popova give the activity is “Explanations”.)
For example, the other day, doing some review of some phrasal verbs with some students at the hospital, I gave them these:
I saw you…
throwing away some files in the container behind the hospital.
looking through the messages on your workmates’s mobile phone
trying on the director’s jacket while (s)he was out
throwing up in the cafeteria
putting out a fire in the trashcan in your office
looking up silly videos on Youtube during work hours
For a lesson on cars and driving, for example, you could give the students sentences like “I saw you driving down the street in reverse”, “I saw you letting air out of the tires of your neighbour’s car”, “I saw you driving a bus”, “I saw you sitting at a traffic light when the light was green”, “I saw you driving in a pedestrian zone”, “I saw you driving the wrong way down a one-way street”, etc., etc.
Anyone have any ideas for using this activity that they’d care to share?