*Telling it Like it is with Tobermory

by Douglas Adams


This activity for beginning and intermediate level students is connected to a story by Saki entitled Tobermory. Tobermory is a cat who learns to speak and makes the mistake of telling a room full of gossiping party guests exactly what he heard them say about one another. Along the same lines, this activity teaches students how to use figurative language to talk about their classmates.

Materials & Method:

Begin by writing everyone's name on 3 X 5 inch slips of paper. Then give a short lesson on the form of figurative language that follows the pattern: She's/He's asquietas amouse. Be sure to elicit examples from the students and list some student generated adjectives on the board. After that, fold the slips and place them in a hat. Each student chooses a name, other than their own, from the hat, being careful not to show their slip to anyone. Everyone writes at least three sentences, using figurative language, about the person on their slip. (Remind students to be nice...this can be said as a joke). After everyone has finished place the folded slips back into the hat. One by one students take turns pulling out a slip and reading the sentences, saying..."This person is..." Afterwards, the other students have a chance to guess the identity of the person being described. Students should support their guesses with reasons and the class can vote on the most likely candidates. After the vote, reveal the actual student's name. Repeat this process until you are left with only two slips. Read the last two slips together so that students can continue to guess.

Skills Benefits:

This group bonding activity lowers the affective filter as students hear their classmates say encouraging things about them. It also is a good way to practice listening, speaking, and grammar skills in a communicative manner. Besides, students usually have fun guessing about their classmates and some of the descriptions can be just plain funny.