In the Text Erase ESL activity students have to erase one, two or three consecutive words from a paragraph, without making it grammatically incorrect.
Write a short, three or four sentence paragraph on the board. This text should be descriptive and contain lots of extra words/details that could be removed. The below example works well:
A young man called John Jackson went to watch the fireworks in his town. He was very excited to see everyone and ready to celebrate with them. It was windy and cold, so he was wearing his favourite brown boots and a blue scarf, which were presents from his grandmother. When he realised he was a little late, he ran across the old bridge to the main square.
Divide the class into pairs or small groups.
- The groups take turns coming to the board and erasing one, two or three consecutive words from the text. However, after they erase anything the text must still be grammatically correct. They are free to change any punctuation as needed.
- Encourage the students to discuss their strategy before making a move. There are often multiple options, and depending on which words are erased, texts can be made much shorter. For example, it is possible to eventually reduce the example text above to the following: John went to town. Wearing boots, he ran.
- After each turn, one person from the group should read the new text. The activity continues until the students are unable to erase any more words.
- If you wish you can make the activity competitive by awarding points for each word erased. If a group is unable to find a word to erase within a specified time, play passes to the next group. The group with the most points at the end wins.
The Text Erase ESL activity is a great warmer for intermediate or advanced level students. It encourages them to think about syntax, parts of speech, and alternative ways of structuring sentences.
For a game in which students take turns adding words to a sentence, see The Neverending Sentence.
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