1. T asks SS to read a text and summarise the main point of the text in one sentence of exactly 20 words. Not 21 words, or 19 words, but exactly 20!
2. SS work with their group (or partner) for a short time, e.g. 10 minutes. T monitors, checks, and corrects.
3. Group feedback: a member from each team reads out their 20-word sentence. T or SS could write some on the board and SS have to compare them. T elicits corrections to errors from the whole group and discusses interesting grammar points. The whole group could discuss “What were the difficulties raised by the word number rule?”
4. Repeat steps 1-3, except SS have to summarise the same text in one sentence of exactly 10 words.
5. Repeat steps 1-3, except SS have to summarise the same text in one sentence of exactly 5 words.
6. Repeat steps 1-3, except SS have to summarise the same text with only 1 word.
7. T discusses the activity with SS: what was easy? What was difficult? What have you learned from doing it?
T must enforce the word count limit. It is this restriction that makes the activity challenging – and fun! SS have to find different ways to say the same thing – adding and removing words to meet the target number of words.
This is a nice activity because it practices:
o word order
o speaking & listening
o reading & writing
o teamwork & negotiation