ESL etc.

Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Kay, S. (2004). Anecdote activities. The Language Teacher, 28(7), 39-43.

June 30th, 2007 by Dave · No Comments

Research has shown that students who plan for tasks attempt more ambitious language, hesitate less, and make fewer basic errors.

Research indicates that asking students to repeat a task a second time is well worthwhile. When students do an anecdote activity for the first time, tell them that you are going to ask them to repeat the same anecdote in a later class. This will not only reassure them that you are doing it deliberately, but, more importantly, it will mean that they can dedicate some time and thought to preparation. Repeating the anecdote reflects real interaction in that everybody has their set piece, whether it’s a joke or a true story. As you will know from personal experience, each time you tell the same story again it gets better–you hesitate less, you know when to pause for effect, or which parts get a laugh, and you elaborate accordingly. Students appreciate the opportunity to do the same thing in their second language, and research has shown that given this opportunity, they become more adventurous and more precise in the language they use. The first time the students do an anecdote activity, they are more likely to concentrate on content; repetition of the task means they have more time to process the language, increase the range of vocabulary, and use more syntactically complex language.

The keys to a good anecdote activity are:

  • choose global topics that everyone can relate to
  • give the students sufficient preparation time (but not so much that they’ve done the task before they start)
  • provide opportunities for the students to listen to native speakers doing the anecdote
  • repeat the task; making slight changes if necessary

Retrieved from on June 28, 2007

Tags: article excerpts

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