Horoscopes, with their predictions and advice, lend themselves to a number of classroom activities. Even the names of the twelve zodiac signs can be the basis for meaningful language practice. You can find many sites that publish daily horoscopes, or you can find printed them in printed sources like entertainment magazines. Here are three suggestions for using horoscopes in the classroom:
- Word stress/ sentence stress. As a class, identify zodiac signs that share the same stress patterns. Example: GEMini, CAPricorn, SCORpio. Clap to or tap out the beat. Then compose statements on the board about what represents each sign. Example: TAURus is a BULL. Use capital letters and/or stress dots to show stressed syllables and stressed words. Students can practice reading the twelve statements with a partner. You can also have students ask their partners WHAT’S your SIGN? and WHEN’S your BIRTHday? The exchange should encourage attention to stress and rhythm. Finally, you can look at horoscopes as a class and identify stressed content words. Have students mark their copies accordingly. In pairs, students can practice sentence stress by reading the horoscopes aloud.
- Conditional statements. Use horoscopes to study use of if-clauses. Example: (Virgo) “Don’t be too surprised if things get a little crazy today — you need to make sure that you’re on the right side of it all! If you have to turn your schedule upside-down, that’s okay by you.” (from Yahoo!) Note verb tenses used for real or likely statements (horoscopes often use the first conditional). You can then have students compose fictitious horoscopes containing at least one conditional statement. All compositions can be written on index cards, collected, and then distributed randomly so each student receives one to read.
- Idioms and/ or phrasal verbs. Looking for a meaningful context in which to practice idioms or phrasal verbs? Use a collection of daily horoscopes. Here are a number of common expressions from just two entries on Yahoo!
(Leo) “Take pride in your work — but try not to get carried away! Your ego may be seeking gratification just a little too much today, but you ought to be able to get what you need without putting anyone else off.”
(Capricorn) “See if you can get some traction with your big plans today — you need to add some details to your schemes if you want to make sure that you’re really on the right track. Think it all through!”
Find 5-6 idioms or phrasal verbs like the ones above. Write their meanings on the board. Students can read through the horoscopes and match the meanings to the targeted vocabulary. Then challenge them to write questions using the new vocabulary. The questions can be used for conversation practice in pairs or small groups.