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A communicative lesson for the TEFL teacher. ESL students spread rumors and tell stories.





The Grapevine: Story Telling

for the TEFL Teacher

 by Chris Gunn



Rumors About Dave: A TEFL Activity

The Grapevine: A Handout for ESL Students.

The Grapevine (also known as Whispers) is a fun way to practice storytelling. I recently used this activity for my sophomore classes at the university where I work. And so the downloads that I've posted here are meant for chapter seven of Passages by Jack Richards and Chuck Sandy, but the activity (and downloads) could easily stand on its own. You could also use it supplement other classes by changing the target language to something more appropriate for your classes.

This activity begins with a short presentation on the expression 'I heard it through the grapevine.' I draw a grapevine on the board. Then I start to spread a rumor about one of the students. I say it loudly so that the rest of the class can overhear it:

          Teacher: Did you hear about Young-Min? He has a new girlfriend

                         and she is 10 years older than him.

Then I get the student to spread the rumor to the next student and so on.

After this five-minute presentation on the 'Grapevine.' I get the class to form their own grapevines with about four to six people per vine. The person at the front of the line is the team captain.

I paste the 8 stories about Dave on the blackboard. The team captains go up and read the stories. They have to communicate all of the essential information including the times to the next person. They should begin the rumor like this:

           Student 1: Did you hear about Dave?

           Student 2: No, what happened?

           Student 1: Well, two weeks ago (last month, last year) . . .

Once the captain has communicated the first rumor, he or she will go and read another rumor while the first person in the vine communicates the rumor to the second person. In that way, each vine will have several rumors going on at once.

Once the rumor has made its way to the end of the vine, the last student has to spread the rumor to the teacher. If the last student communicates all of the information correctly, that grapevine gets 1 point. If some information is missing, the teacher will ask the student to find out that information. When the student comes back with the missing information then the grapevine gets 1 point. The teacher should have a copy of the rumors to compare with the students stories.

I don't let students write anything because then they just end up showing each other what they've written and the whole thing becomes an exercise in reading. 

This TEFL activity is designed with intermediate ESL/EFL students in mind. It can be done with large or moderately small classes (no less than 8).