Tell your students you are going to give them the name of an animal and then give them 15 seconds silent time.

Tell your students you are going to give them the name of an animal and then give them 15 seconds silent time. Give them the word "LION" .......... When the 15 seconds are up ask a number of students this simple question: "When you heard the word LION what happened in your head?"

You will get answers ranging from "nothing" to " I saw the lion in the grass", "the lion roar", "I feel the lion too near", " the Lion King".

Give the students about a dozen animals using the timing suggested above. Vary the animals you choose: eg mosquito, hen, crocodile, cat, snake, seagull.

The point of this simple exercise is for you to realise and for the stuidents to realise how creative and varied their responses are to simple words. This complex, diverse response is the norm when people are listening to language, even to isolated words in the language.

The pedagogocial conclusion to be drawn from this realisation is that we need to help students to share the DIVERSITY of their listening, rather than the common elements.

I wonder how you react to this simple, fundamental realisation about listening?

Maybe you do exercises that draw on the richness of the students' response.

Why not share them?

Mario (I feel alone without your thoughts and comments)


Thanks!! It really is a simple excercise. But it is so coplex as well! We can use it not only for animals but for many other things as well. Or we can tell the students to think of a noun or an adjective or even a verb which is related or will describe the particular animal! The time may vary from a level to level.



Dear Lilit,

                 I think you are right in saying this exericse is both simple and complex. It is simple in that it can be done with quite young learners and yet the synaptic events happening within the learners's BRAINS are very complex.

                 I chose the category ANIMALS because if its apparent simplicity but how about taking a huge spatial category like this one:



 What other word category do you, Lilit, think you students might react well to?

Let us all know,




Hej Mario,

I am Alemayehu. I am English teacher in a hospitality institute. I think it is terrific way you provide us to have an interactive class session and I am grateful for that. This exercise which I believe is a very helpful for the students to say their different perceptions of the same word that fosters their vocabulary and speaking skill. So I would create categories to hotel English like HOUSE KEEPING, FOOD AND BEVERAGE SERVICE, RECEPTION and so on.

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