(Almost) Infinite ELT Ideas: Speech Bubbles

(Almost) Infinite ELT Ideas was an idea originally conceived by Sandy Millin, and shared on her blog of the same name. In her words…

I will post a prompt for you to exercise your teaching muscles by making suggestions on how you could use it in class. All ideas are welcome – there are no wrong answers! Together we’ll build up a bank of inspiration for you to turn to whenever you’re stuck.

I always loved this idea, so I’ve decided to steal it for my own blog (with Sandy’s permission, of course!)

For this month’s idea, I present… speech bubbles!

So how would use these cardboard speech bubbles with your students? Leave a comment below with your suggestion and in a few days, I’ll add a suggestion of my own.


Here’s a suggestion for you. As someone who mainly teaches intermediate and advanced students one-to-one, I have to deal with a lot of fossilised errors. These are errors that students make after having learnt how to do correctly, but they just keep making. Basically, they are things that they shouldn’t do anymore but do anyway. For my Brazilian students this includes things like confusing he and she, the pronunciation of -ed endings (work-id, knock-id etc), and saying one instead of a or an, as one student of mine in particular has the habit of doing.

Rather than interrupting them verbally every time they make this error, instead I have some of these cards on the table between us:

If they make one of these mistakes, I will, without saying anything, point to the error which student takes as a cue to reformulate the sentence correctly. It’s a subtle way of correcting without interrupting the flow of the student’s speech too much and it facilitates the repetition that you need when trying to correct fossilised errors. And they can be used with online students too by holding them up in front of the camera.

For more great (Almost) Infinite ELT Ideas, see the comments below!


5 thoughts on “(Almost) Infinite ELT Ideas: Speech Bubbles

  1. Hi, James! I’ve done something with my students to practice Reported Speech. I wrote a (funny) sentence in the speech bubble, e.g. “I’ve bought a Ferrari”. One student would hold it above their head, but without knowing the content of the speech bubble. The rest of the group would say: “You said/you had bought a Ferrari” and the student who was holding the speech bubble would have to say the sentence in the Direct Speech (“I’ve bought a Ferrari”) and then he would read the speech bubble to check it out. My students loved the activity, specially because I’ve chosen funny sentences like “I love my mother-in-law”, “Is there any prison somewhere here?” “I may go to Siberia on vacation”.

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