In many language schools it’s probably a hard fought race between the photocopier and the guillotine as to which gets used most in any given day.  Probably the photocopier, but the guillotine usually gets a fair work out.  And then there’s the futile search for the box of paper clips or the elastic bands, both of which are eventually found underneath someone’s register, which in turn lives underneath a large pile of resource books that only get referred to once a term, but which must, nonetheless live in a big heap on the desk of the one teacher in the teachers’ room who never signs anything out, but where everything is, sooner or later, found.

So here’s a quick tip to avoid needless copying and chopping – I call it a Dictation Word Swap and it’s a nice, mobile mingle activity, which works as an alternative to most matching tasks.

Say you have a list of collocations, and you want learners to match the two halves of the collocations together (e.g. learn by heart / get the gist / skip ahead).  Collocations are used here as an example, but this can work with other language tasks – for example matching different halves of conditional sentences.

Dictate the first half of the collocations so that learners have a numbered list (e.g.  1 – learn  /  2 – get the  /  3 – skip).

Then ask each learner to come up in turn and give one “second half” to each learner, either on a bit of paper, or just tell them.  So, learner A has “by heart”, learner B has “gist” and so on.

Learners then mingle, saying ONLY their “second half”, thus sharing the second halves with the whole class.  As they hear the second half from their classmates, learners write down what they hear next to what they think the matching first half is.

It’s probably been done before, but it might well save you half an hour of copying and chopping, as well as another 45 minutes looking for the paper clips!