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He Said She Said Circle – tefl activity

He Said She Said Circle is a simple activity for students to practice their reported speech‏‎ (also known as indirect speech).

Ideally you should run this activity after a lesson where students have been working on reported speech. If not, you should quickly run over the rules and principles of turning direct speech into indirect speech.

The nice thing about this activity is that it takes no preparation time and you can adjust the language you use in it to suit the class both in terms of level and also to what they have recently been studying.

Running the Activity

  1. Get all the students into a circle.
  2. Make a simple statement, e.g. “I speak German.”
  3. Point to a (good) student and tell them to turn that into indirect speech. The student should say something like, “Teacher said she spoke German.”
  4. Point to another student and get them to report what the previous student said. This should be something like, “Mario said the teacher said she spoke German.”
  5. Point to yet another student and get them to report what the previous student said. This should be something like, “Suzi said Mario said the teacher said she spoke German.”
  6. Point to yet another student and get them to report what the previous student said. This should be something like, “Arnaldo said Suzi said Mario said the teacher said she spoke German.”

And work slowly round the group making the sentence longer and longer till confusion (and hopefully laughter) reigns.

Once the students are familiar with this, use a beanbag. Make a statement then toss it to a random student who has to report your statement. That student then tosses the beanbag to another student who has to make reported speech about the reported speech about the statement and so on.

Variations on a Theme

Once the students are familiar with this you can bring in extra details.

  • reporting verbs: whisper, shout, sing, ask
  • start with a question
  • encourage the class to bring in variations and play with the idea

Maria speaking to Tom: “Do you speak German?”

Tom tells the class: Maria asked me if I spoke German.

Katerina tells the class: Maria asked Tom if he spoke German.

Louis whispers to Tariq: Katerina said that Maria asked Tom if he spoke German.

Tariq tells the class: Louis whispered to me that Katerina said that Maria asked Tom if he spoke German.

Karl tells the class:Tariq said that Louis whispered to him that Katerina said that Maria asked Tom if he spoke German.

And so on…

Useful Links

Reported Speech – a guide to reported speech

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