Phone Messages

The Phone Messages ESL activity requires students to pass on information using reported speech.

Students for Phone Messages ESL Activity:3+Time for Phone Messages ESL Activity:10-20 mins
Resources for Phone Messages ESL Activity:

Divide your class into groups of three. If necessary, one or two groups can have four students.

  1. Each student individually prepares three pieces of information that together make a logical phone message. For example, the time of a party, what to bring, and how you are going to get there.
  2. In each group, assign each student to role A, B or C.
  3. Students A and B sit on back to back. They role-play the situation that Student A wants to speak to Student C, but when they call they’re not there, and Student B answers.
  4. Student B takes a message from Student A and makes a note of it to relay later. For example, Marcus bought tickets for the concert on Friday.
  5. Student B then passes the message on to Student C using reported speech. For example, Marcus said he had bought tickets for the concert on Friday.
  6. Student C notes down the information. However, they must not write full sentences.
  7. The students change their roles and repeat until all students have passed on their message.
  8. Finally, the students report back to the whole class on the messages that were left to them. For example, Marcus left me a message to say he had bought tickets to the concert on Friday.
Target Language

The Phone Messages ESL activity is a great way to practise reported speech with either intermediate or advanced students, using a real-life situation. Make sure students pretending to speak on the phone sit back to back to practise listening without visual clues.

With intermediate students, the focus is likely to be more on using the correct reported speech grammar structures. Advanced students can practise producing those structures quickly and fluently, and add more improvisation into the role play.

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