3-step Trip Down Memory Lane: A whole group and small group activity

It’s always fun to build an activity around happy memories. When describing a past experience, students decide how much they’re comfortable sharing, but any amount of sharing helps brings down barriers and creates a stronger sense of community. Furthermore, the content is familiar, and this facilitates self-expression in the target language.

The following activity is outlined with intermediate and advanced students in mind, but it could be modified for lower level students, as long as they have the simple past tense. Once you understand the basic approach, the activity can be recycled many times to cover different topics and to target different kinds of listening tasks: listening for details, listening to make inferences, listening to understand the sequence of events, etc. I call it a 3-step activity because it involves specific speaking, listening, and writing tasks.

Click here to view and print out my 3-step Trip Down Memory Lane_handout. Enjoy!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Emily says:

    Jennifer,

    I used this activity (the vacations variant) with my Intermediate English Basic Skills class this morning.

    The students really responded well to it! 30 seconds was a great amount of speaking time, and the listening tasks (once everybody fully grasped the process) really did wonders to engage the listeners through all 21 presentations.

    One way I tweaked the lesson plan was to pretty heavily scaffold the preparation of the presentations. I took students through a process of thinking about their vacation memory, talking to a partner about it, writing down their own answers, and practicing presenting.

    Before the first volunteer came up, I modeled a good presentation for them. I also provided a negative model by literally holding my open notebook in front of my face and reading robotically. It was worth a laugh, and it seemed to have made its point.

    This lesson really gave them the opportunity to do great work. Thanks so much for sharing it!

    1. Emily, thank you! I’m so glad someone has tried out the activity and given feedback. I think the 30-second time limit really suits advanced students with a lot of vocabulary and grammar to put into production. In their case, the time limit can help keep their talks focused and brief. Did you find that some of your intermediate students struggled to fill up their allotted time? What I loved learning was how the listening tasks helped to keep the students engaged. Indeed, 21 speakers creates a large block of presentation time. Thanks also for providing the tip on scaffolding for the presentation. That step-by-step preparation likely aided them in preparing to speak for a full 30 seconds. Very well done.

  2. grace says:

    I think that it is a great way to teach, by showing your kids what you have experienced and what you have learned from it. I often take my kids back to where I have been in the past on holiday.

  3. Amelia says:

    I love revisiting places that my nan showed me in pictures with her in when she was young. The places have really changed over the years, although you can still appreciate the similarity.

    1. Hi Amelia!
      Yes, there’s much to think about when we contrast then and now. Pictures certainly stimulate discussion.

  4. grace says:

    Thanks Jennifer for your 3 step approach it is a really good concept to get the kids both listening and talking, and has certainly worked for me. I am knew to teaching so need all the help I can get to make my Y4’s listening.

    1. Hi Grace! I’m glad you liked the post, and I hope you’ll find the opportunity to try out the activity.

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