ESL Activities and Games | Reporting verbs and reported speech

News media | 60 - 90 minutes

This advanced ESL lesson plan is the second of three lessons on the theme of relationships. It contains activities, games and resources for teaching reporting verbs and reported speech.

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Use of the board

Start by informing the students that the verbs say and tell are often overused, and at the advanced level, they will see more complex verb patterns used in their place.

Next, step through three of the most common reporting verb patterns. Give examples of verbs that are used with each and try to elicit an example sentence from the board. Tell the class that there are several more patterns and that they should also research these.

After that, we'll work through reported speech. The sample board work shows one way that advanced students can look at reporting verbs. It highlights two functional uses and their differences. Step through each and have the students help you with examples by converting direct speech to reported speech.


Reporting verbs

The students will practice using some of the reporting structures covered in the board work.

Start by adding the following list of verbs to the top of the board:

beg, claim, promise, insist, congratulate, recommend, threaten, warn

Next, add the following prompts to the board and have the students work individually to rewrite them using these verbs. They should select the verb that they think is most appropriate.

1. 'You should start watching Game of Thrones. It's excellent,' Marie told John.
2. Peter told his son, 'If you keep annoying your brother, I'll take away your iPad.'
3. 'Could you please babysit tonight? We're desperate,' said Mr Smith to his eldest daughter.
4. Mrs Jones told the children, 'Be careful! I saw a bear in those woods last week.'
5. 'I heard you passed all of your exams, well done,' said Steven to Jeffery.

Before they begin, work through the first example on the board, using suggestions from the class.

When the students have finished, they should compare their answers with a partner.

The students will likely have some valid questions after this. Therefore, correct this exercise as a group and invite them to ask questions.

1. Marie recommended that John start watching Game of Thrones.
2. Peter threatened to take away his son's iPad if he didn't stop annoying his brother.
3. Mr Smith begged his daughter to babysit that night.
4. Mrs Jones warned the children not go into the woods as she had spotted a bear in there last week.
5. Steven congratulated Jeffery on passing all of his exams.

Reported speech

For this writing activity, the students have to create direct statements from reported speech.

Add the following reported statements to the board and have the students work individually to figure out what was originally said.

1. Jeff promised to give reporters the full story at the next meeting.
2. Mark encouraged Sarah to apply for art college right away.
3. Before reviewing the latest data, Henry was blaming economists for this mess.
4. The governor was apologising for his previous remarks when the story broke.
5. William admitted that if he'd acted sooner, fewer people would have been affected.
6. The president suggested that they postpone the meeting until Tuesday.

Before they begin, elicit the solution to the first problem and add it to the board. There may be multiple correct answers for each statement so students should compare their answers with a partner when finished.

When ready, work through a solution for each with your students.

1. "I'll give you the full story at the next meeting. I promise."
2. "You should apply to art college right away."
3. "I was blaming economists for this mess until I reviewed the latest data."
4. "I'm very sorry for any offence caused by my previous remarks."
5. "Fewer people would have been affected if I'd acted sooner."
6. "Let's postpone this meeting until Tuesday."

Homework preparation: The current state of journalism

For this activity, we're going to prepare students for their homework assignment.

Start by adding the title of their homework assignment to the top of the board.

"In an era of social media and fake news, does real journalism have a future?"

Create a table underneath with the headings yes and no. Next, have a group discussion and complete the table with as many ideas as you can.

Explain to your students that they are going to write an article that argues a response to this question. They have to decide which side they want to take. Encourage them to focus on two arguments and use the following outline. Elicit as much of this as you can through group discussion.

Paragraph 1: Introduce the topic
Paragraph 2: Discuss argument 1
Paragraph 3: Discuss argument 2
Paragraph 4: Conclusion

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Hot seat: Funny headlines

Students will have to describe amusing headlines to their teammate in the hot seat.

Start by dividing the class into two teams. On each turn, one student will sit with their back to the board, facing their teammates. Next, you'll write a funny headline on the board.

Players then have to describe these to their teammate in the hot seat without using any significant words from the board. Encourage them to play this like charades, where they focus on one word at a time. It might take them a couple of rounds to get going.

Set a time limit if you wish. Here are a few examples of real headlines:

1. Safety meeting ends in accident.
2. Museums full of history.
3. Goat accused of robbery
4. Thursday is cancelled.
5. Voters to vote on whether to vote
6. Farmer using cannon to protect watermelons

To make it easier for the students to organise their explanations, divide the sentence on the board into three parts: For example, the subjectverb and object.

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