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Teacher's Corner: Reported Speech
In this month’s Teacher’s Corner, we will showcase four activities that can be used to practice reported speech. These activities create opportunities for students to practice reported speech in both written and spoken form.

Reported speech provides a challenge for most learners of English. The shifting tenses and changes to both pronouns and modal verbs take time to learn and practice to use effectively. This practice is key because reported speech requires accuracy on the part of the speaker. Even minor errors can make it difficult for the listener to understand when the action in the reported speech occurred.

When working with reported speech, it is helpful to have the students work through the sentence by identifying the following grammar aspects of the direct speech that is to be converted to reported speech.

1.     Identify the type of sentence. Is it a statement, a command, or a question?

  • This will determine the reporting verb used, such as said, told, or asked.

2.     Identify the verb tense used in the direct speech as the verb tenses will backshift when being changed to reported speech.

  • Note: Although it is not standard, some native speakers may not change present tense into past tense for facts. For example “Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world” can change to “She said Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world.”

3.     Identify the pronoun and change it accordingly. For example, “I like soccer” requires a change of pronoun to he or she “She said she likes soccer”.

4.     Identify any times and/or places. These will need to be changed when converting to reported speech. For example, “I will come there after class” changes to “She told me she would come here after class.”

In this month’s Teacher’s Corner, we will showcase four activities that can be used to practice reported speech. These activities are designed to give students practice using reported speech in a variety of ways. The activities create opportunities for students to practice reported speech in both spoken and written form.

Week 1 – Reported Speech Overview

Week 2 – Gossip and Rumors

Week 3 – Trace Effects

Week 4 – World News Report

The goal in each of these activities is to provide students opportunities to work through the steps above to convert direct speech to reported speech. Week 1 works with the mechanics of reported speech and centers on an interview activity. Week 2 encourages students to get to know each other better by using a variation of the game “two truths and a lie.” Week 3 provides a variety of reported speech activities that utilize the game Trace Effects. Week 4 gives students the chance to work with reported speech to deliver news reports in the classroom.

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Table of Contents

Reported Speech OverviewExpand

Level

Low-Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Speaking, listening (primary focus); writing (secondary focus)

Goals

Students will increase their understanding of reported speech through a matching and interview activity.

Materials

  • Teacher: whiteboard/chalkboard, markers or chalk, a timing device, a world map for reference, match-up cards (Appendix 1), reported speech interviews worksheet (Appendix 2).
  • Students: pencils or pens, notebooks or writing paper.

Preparation

This week’s Teacher’s Corner introduces students to the grammatical structures in reported speech. Students will practice matching direct speech to reported speech and then practice changing direct speech to reported speech via interviews with fellow students.

1.     Read through all the materials carefully.

2.     Print one copy of the reported speech match-up cards found in Appendix 1 for the class activity. For larger classes, multiple copies may be needed.

  • There are 39 cards in total. For smaller classes, the match-up activity can be completed in rounds – first the verb tenses and then the modals.

3.     Once the match-up cards have been printed, cut them into individual cards. These cards are in three categories: verb tense (x13 cards), direct speech (x13 cards), and reported speech (x13 cards).

4.     For the interview activity, print enough of the reported speech interviews worksheets in Appendix 2 so that each student has a copy. These print outs do not need to be cut into individual cards.

 

Procedures

Part 1 – Reported Speech Match Up

1.     Begin the class activity by having the students stand up and mix themselves around.

2.     Next, give each student one of the 39 cards found in Appendix 1.

  • Students should keep their card hidden at the start and not show it to their classmates.
  • Instruct the students that when you say “Go!” they should move around the room and match their card with the correct cards held by other students.
  • Once they find the students with the matching cards, they should stand in a group.

Note: Students will end up forming groups of three – one student with the verb tense card, one with the direct speech card, and one with the reported speech card. For example:

        Student #1                            Student #2                                                Student #3

present simple

I enjoy reading.”

He said (that) he enjoyed reading.

3.     Yell “Go!” and have the students mingle and find the students with the correct cards.

4.     Once all of the groups of students have been formed, have them read their card aloud to the rest of class. Have them begin with the verb tense, then the direct speech, and then the reported speech.

5.     Once finished, have the students turn in their cards, mix them up and then play again. Play as many rounds as time permits.

Part 2 – Interviews

1.     Have the students sit down. The first portion of this activity is individual work, so they do not need to sit with a partner or group.

2.     Give each student a copy of the reported speech interviews worksheets found in Appendix 2.

3.     Have the students read through the sheet. Ask them if they have any questions before beginning the writing portion of the activity.

4.     Next, instruct the students to choose 10 out of the 13 possible verb tenses or modals. The students then write 10 questions using the verb tenses or modals that they selected.

  • Students should write their questions in the left column under Verb Tenses. For example:

Verb Tense

Direct Speech

Reported Speech

present simple

Do you like to read?

   

5.     After the students have written their questions, have them find a partner.

6.     Once the students are in pairs, organize each pair into student A or student B.

7.     Student A begins by asking their questions to student B. When student B answers, student A should write down the answer under the column Direct Speech.

8.     Once student A is finished asking questions, have the pair switch roles: Student B asks questions and student A answers the questions. Student B should write down student A’s answers in the Direct Speech column as well.

9.     After the interviews have been completed, have the students return to their seats. Now, each student should take the answers provided by their partner and convert them to reported speech. Instruct them to write down the reported speech in the column on their worksheet labeled Reported Speech.

Part 3 – Information Sharing

1.     Once students have converted their partner’s direct speech to reported speech, have them stand up and find a new partner.

2.     With their new partner, have the students share the answers provided by their previous partner. Circulate around the room to ensure that students are using reported speech.

  • For more advanced classes, have them also use reported speech to report the questions they asked as well. For example: Susan: “I asked Robert if he likes to read. Roberto said he enjoys reading mystery stories.”

3.     Once each student has reported on the answers of their previous partner, bring the class back together. If time permits, have the students share the answers with the rest of the class.

Appendix 1: Reported Speech Match-Up

Verb Tenses

Verb Tense

Direct Speech

Reported Speech

present simple

I enjoy reading.”

He said (that) he enjoyed reading.

past simple

I traveled to New York City.”

She said (that) she had traveled to New York City.

present continuous

I am studying English at school.”

She said (that) she was studying English at school.

past continuous

I was talking with my friend.”

He said (that) he had been talking with his friend.

present perfect

I have not been to a baseball game.”

He said (that) he had not been to a baseball game.

past perfect

I had visited America before starting university.”

She said (that) she had visited America before starting university.

Modals

will

I will visit her after class.”

She said (that) she would visit her after class.

would

I would help you, but I need to study for exams.”

He said (that) he would help me, but he needed to study for exams.

can

I can play football with you tomorrow.”

She said (that) she could play football with us tomorrow.

could

I could ride a bicycle when I was eight years old.”

He said (that) he could ride a bicycle when he was eight years old.

should

I should study for the test tomorrow.”

She said (that) she should study for the test tomorrow.

might

I might not go to the party tomorrow.

He said (that) he might not go to the party tomorrow.

must

I must improve my English before I travel to Chicago.

She said she had to improve her English before she traveled to Chicago.

Appendix 2: Reported Speech Interviews

Verb Tenses

Verb Tense

Direct Speech

Reported Speech

present simple

 

 

past simple

 

 

 

present continuous

 

 

past continuous

 

 

present perfect

 

 

past perfect

 

 

 

Modals

will

 

 

would

 

 

can

 

 

could

 

 

should

 

 

might

 

 

must

 

 

 

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Gossip and RumorsExpand

Level

Low-Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Speaking, listening (primary focus); writing (secondary focus)

Goals

Students will practice using reported speech through discussing gossip and rumors.

Materials

  • Teacher: whiteboard/chalkboard, markers or chalk, “Two Truths” Appendix 1.
  • Students: pencils or pens, notebooks or writing paper.

Preparation

This week’s Teacher’s Corner is using a variation on the game “Two Truths and a Lie”. The game is simple; each player tells two facts that are true and one that is a lie. The other players must correctly guess which one of the three statements is a lie. In this variation of the game, students will write their statements down on a sheet of paper, trade them with other students, and then use reported speech to share these statements with the class.

  1. Read through all the materials carefully.
  2. Print out the “Two Truths and a Lie” cards in Appendix 1. Make enough copies so that each student in class has a statement card.
    Note: If playing multiple rounds, print enough copies so each student has one card per game.
  3. Each game will have five rounds. In the first round, student A will talk to his/her partner, reporting on the statements. Their partner (student B) will choose the statement they believe is a lie. Student A will then note on their card student B’s choice in the “Vote for a Lie” table at the bottom of their card. The pair of students will repeat this process for student B’s card. Once both students have noted their partner’s vote, they will find new partners and repeat the process. Once each student has talked to five other students and registered the votes, the game is over.
  4. After students have played two rounds and have become familiar with the game, encourage them to expand the game to include statements about their favorite celebrities and/or sports stars. For example a student may write:

Lionel Messi has won eight La Liga titles.

Lionel Messi plays for Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi has won three European Golden Shoes.

Procedures

Part 1 – Two Truths and a Lie Statements Cards

  1. Tell the students to think about two facts and one untrue fact about themselves. Encourage the students to think carefully so that the lie is difficult to detect!
  2. Next, pass out the “Two Truths and a Lie” statement card to the students.
  3. Have the students write down their name at the top of the card and their three statements in the numbered spaces provided.
    Note: Remind students to mix up their statements. If each student writes the lie as the third statement, the game will become predictable!

Part 2 – “Did you know that…?”

  1. Next, have each student switch their card with a classmate so that each student now has another student’s card.
  2. Instruct the students to read the card and convert the statements to reported speech. 
    For example: Susan writes, “I went to America”, so John should change it to, “Susan said that she has gone to America. 
    Note: When gossiping in English, the beginning of a sentence is typically altered to make the news more exciting. For example, instead of “Susan said that…” the sentence may begin with a phrase such as, “Did you hear that…”or “Do you think that…” or “I heard that…” While lower level classes may need to practice the more formal structures, more advanced students can use these more informal phrases.
  3. Next, have the students stand up and find a partner. They can choose any partner except the person who has their original card (and whose card they now have).
  4. Each student should report the information on the card to their partner. After hearing the three statements, their partner should guess which one is the lie. Each student should mark down their partner’s guess at the bottom of their card.
  5. Have the students switch and find a new partner and repeat the process.
  6. After five rounds, have the students find the classmate whose card they have. Have the students share the results with their partner.
    Note: If time permits, have students volunteer to share their results with the class. Which student had the most believable lie?

Optional Activity

If time permits, have the students play another round. This time, have them create statements about each other or their favorite celebrities or sports stars.

Appendix 1: Two Truths and a Lie

Name:

Facts About Me:

1.

2.

3.

Votes for Lie:

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name:

Facts About Me:

1.

2.

3.

Votes for Lie:

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name:

Facts About Me:

1.

2.

3.

Votes for Lie:

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name:

Facts About Me:

1.

2.

3.

Votes for Lie:

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name:

Facts About Me:

1.

2.

3.

Votes for Lie:

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name:

Facts About Me:

1.

2.

3.

Votes for Lie:

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reported Speech - Trace EffectsExpand

Level

Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Speaking, listening (primary focus); reading (secondary focus)

Goals

Students will increase their reported speech skills through role play activities centered on the game Trace Effects.

Materials

  • Teacher: whiteboard/chalkboard, markers or chalk, computer and projector, computer lab if possible, copies of Trace Effects (online or DVD version). Copies of the Trace Effects Chapter 1 comics, which can be found in the downloads section of this webpage.
  • Students: pencils or pens, notebooks or writing paper.

Preparation

This week’s Teacher’s Corner uses the video game Trace Effects to practice reported speech. Trace Effects, like other video games, requires players to solve problems using the information provided. Gathering information in Trace Effects requires asking questions and listening to the answers. This question and answer format makes it an effective way for students to practice reported speech.

This week’s Teacher’s Corner provides a series of activities centered on Trace Effects to help students practice reported speech. If you have never played Trace Effects, you can find it here.

  1. Read through all the materials carefully.
  2. These activities are best used in a computer lab, if possible. Have students work on the computers in pairs or small groups.
  3. The fourth activity is an information gap using Chapter 1 of the Trace Effects Comic book. When students are paired for the activity, one student will have the regular version of the comic and his/her partner will have a special version of the same comic. This special version will have some of the text missing. Both are included in the “Downloads” section of this week’s Teacher’s Corner web page.

Procedures

Trace Telephone – Pairs or Small Groups

1.     Before class, ensure that each computer has a set of headphones.

2.     Have the students form pairs or small groups. Each pair or small group should have a computer on which to work.

3.     Next, have the students go to the webpage Trace Effects. If your school has DVD copies of Trace Effects, or the game is installed on school computers, have the students use that version.

4.     Provide each student a role during gameplay: one student (the controller) should control the mouse and keyboard, while a second student (the reporter) listens to the audio in the headphones.

a.     If playing in small groups, the third student can be the “grammar checker.” Their job is to listen to what they reporter tells the controller and check the reported speech that the reporter uses.

5.     Let the groups begin a game of Trace Effects. The player with the headphones must communicate the responses of the other characters to their partner or group.

a.     If playing as a whole class, have one student come to the front of the class to be the reporter. The remainder of the class can shout out/vote for what should be selected next in the dialogue chain.

Trace Telephone – Class Version

1.     If a computer lab is not available, a similar activity to the one above can be conducted as a whole class.

2.     In this version of the activity, one student works as the controller of the game while another student uses the headphones to listen to the audio.

3.     Taking turns, students come to the front of the class and put on the headphones. The student must listen to the dialogue from the NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) and change the speech they hear to reported speech. Using reported speech, they must tell the class what they heard.

4.     If the student uses reported speech successfully, they continue to be the class reporter. If the student does not use the correct reported speech, the reporter must sit down and a new student comes to the front of the class to assume the role.

a.     Optional: When a student reports the dialogue incorrectly, they can take over controlling the game.

5.     The student who correctly reports the dialogue the most number of times in a row wins!

Trace Summary – Chapter 2

Reported speech is regularly used when summarizing an event or telling a story. In this activity, students will report on the events of Trace Effects Chapter 2.

1.     Place students into pairs or small groups. These pairs/small groups will work together to complete Trace Effects Chapter 2.

2.     Have the students play Chapter 2 of the game.

a.     While students play the chapter, have them take notes about the events in the game.

  • Encourage them to take notes on who Trace talks to and what the characters say to Trace.

b.     If students are playing in pairs or small groups, have them take turns at the controls. This chapter of Trace Effects has two scenes: the farmers’ market and a high school. Students can switch turns on the controls when the scene changes.

3.     Once students have completed the chapter, have them provide a summary of the chapter in the form of a story. For example:

Trace asked the woman at the tomato booth if she was Emma Fields. The woman said no and told Trace to ask the people at the corn booth.

4.     Depending on the level of the students, the summary can be presented in class as a spoken activity, or students can take their notes home and write a summary to be presented in class the following day.

Trace Effects – Comic Book

This activity is best completed after students have played Trace Effects Chapter 1. This activity can also benefit from being conducted in a computer lab if possible.

1.     Have the students form pairs of A and B.

2.     Give half the students (student A) copies of the Trace Effects Chapter 1 – Blanks comic book included with this activity.

3.     Give the other half of the class (student B) a copy of the Trace Effects Chapter 1 comic.

4.     Instruct student A to fill in the blanks in their comic by asking student B what was said by the characters with the missing text. Student B should give the missing lines using reported speech. Student A should listen to the reported speech and convert it to direct speech and fill in the words missing in the speech bubbles.

  • Note: to extend the activity and give both students in the pair the opportunity to work with reported speech, hand out only half of the comic (pages 3-5) to the students. Then, once the pairs have completed those pages, have them switch roles and to complete the second half of the comic (pages 6-8).
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World News ReportExpand

Level

High-Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Speaking, reading (primary focus); writing, listening (secondary focus)

Goals

Students will practice using reported speech by giving news reports.

Materials

Preparation

This week’s Teacher’s Corner practices reported speech through reporting on news stories. Reporting on events, such as news stories, allow students to practice a larger variety of verbs when using reported speech.

  1. Read through all the materials carefully before starting the activity.
  2. Read the article “Scott Kelly Reflects On His Year Off The Planet” before class to identify vocabulary that may be new or challenging to students. Identify the quotes made by astronaut Scott Kelly in the article; students will convert these quotes to reported speech.
  3. Print a copy of the article for each student to read or, if possible, complete part one of the activity in a computer lab.

Procedures

Part 1 – In-Class Practice

1.     Pass out copies of the article “Scott Kelly Reflects On His Year Off The Planet”, or provide students a link to the article if working in a computer lab.

2.     Have the students read the article.

3.     Once the students have finished reading, have the students underline or highlight the quotes made by astronaut Scott Kelly in the article. If students are reading the article online, have them write the quotes on a sheet of paper.

4.     Next, have the students write a short summary of the article. Instruct them to use at least two quotes from astronaut Kelly. These quotes must be changed to reported speech.

a.     For lower level classes, students can do the summary in pairs or small groups.

b.     Advance classes can use this opportunity not only to practice reported speech but to cite sources as well.

  • For example, with Scott Kelly’s quote, "I have taken a lot of pictures because I've been up here for a long time," can be changed to: Kelly told reporters that he had taken a lot of pictures because he had been up there a long time.
  • More advanced classes can also use reported speech to summarize what the author of the article wrote, such as: Brumfiel states that when Kelly had returned to Earth he had spent 340 days aboard the International Space Station.

5.     Have students switch summaries with another student. The students read their partner’s summary and analyze how closely it matches the information in the article. Instruct the students to make corrections to any errors they see in the reported speech contained in the summary.

a.     Optional: The summaries can be collected and corrections made to the reported speech.

Part 2 – Homework

1.     Now that students have practice with the in-class article, assign them homework to find a new article on which to report.

2.     Encourage students to find an article on a topic they enjoy. A resource for articles designed for learners of English is Voice of America.

3.     Have the students summarize their article and, as in the class example, include at least two instances of reported speech.

Part 3 – In-Class Report

1.     In the next class, have the students present their article summary to the class. Give each student two minutes to present their summary to the class.

2.     Encourage students not to rely on their writing but to try giving the summary from memory.

Optional variations

1.     Make this a regular activity in your class by requiring students to present a news report each week. Each class period, a set number of students can provide a report, such as two students at the start of each class.

2.     If class time is limited, have the students record their summaries and submit them as audio journals. For ideas on student recordings, see the September 2015 Teacher’s Corner on using Audacity recording software.

For more ways to incorporate global affairs and news into your classroom check out the Teacher’s Corner for March 2016.

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