This is an activity for the more advanced ESL student; high-intermediate to advanced. It is a linguistic activity which requires absolutely no materials (other than a chalkboard).
Students are given a brief paragraph to translate into their own languages. It should be a paragraph with some complexity (for example):
In the deep dark woods, a clever fox decided to attack the chicken coop on a neighboring farm......... continue paragraph. Be creative.
The students translate the paragraph as best they can. Obviously literal translation is not possible and that is the point of the exercise. Students then write their paragraph in Korean or Japanese or Spanish on the board and explain what problems they had in translating. They are also required to explain why they used the verb tenses they did, the vocabulary they did, etc. and contrast it with the English way of writing such a passage. Additionally, the student or students (those of the same language should be grouped together and present together) should share as much as they can about the history of their own language with the other students in the class. After all translations are done, students then teach one or two simple phrases in their own languages to the rest of the students, using English as the operant language. Students are fascinated and learn a lot about each others' cultures and languages.
Location: New York, NY USA
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