Going to Pieces

Most enthusiastic language teachers “Go To Pieces”, meaning they literally use material that is in pieces and compels students to practice and communicate. At its heart, “pieces” is a way of teaching that puts communication at the core of language teaching and learning.

Think about it. “Pieces” as an approach or frame, stretches over a wide swath of materials, methods and delivery practices. The blank dialogue is front and center. But you also have jigsaw type activities. Gap fills are basically whole texts in parts (some parts missing). Retelling is basically putting the pieces of a story back together again. Same with sequence or ordering activities. I could go on and on – there are so many activities which the teacher deconstructs and asks the students to reconstruct – to put the pieces back together again….

I want to highlight one such activity. Yesterday, still after 8 months, unpacking my boxes of books and writings, came across this poem, one of a series I made at the time. From one newspaper, I made a collage, a poem.

This would be a simple but wonderfully creative and student centered activity. Give students any disposable text (flyers, magazines, newspapers, brochures) and let them be creative. Then present to the class or share in some form.

Go to pieces is a great philosophy for a language teacher. Why I’ve told many of my student teachers over the years that a pair of scissors is the best friend, most important tool in their kit.

Maybe during this activity, you can play this great tune – “Pick up the pieces”. 80s funk at its best.

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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2 Responses

  1. Juan Uribe says:

    Great activity David!

    I once saw a variation in which students choose words from a text and black out the others, which makes it much harder.

    Wish you great classes,


  2. ddeubel says:


    That would work. It also espouses a student created content approach – one I’ve been advocating a lot. Students make the curriculum , in this case just sharing their materials after creations as not a final product but materials other students can use to learn English.

    Thanks for the wishes,


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