Pilgrims HomeContentsEditorialMarjor ArticleJokesShort ArticleIdeas from the CorporaLesson OutlinesStudent VoicesPublicationsAn Old ExercisePilgrims Course OutlineReaders LettersPrevious Editions

Copyright Information

Humanising Language Teaching
Year 1; Issue 1; February 1999

An Old Exercise


Level: Lower to upper intermediate
Time: l5-20 minutes

Attentive listening to other students- pronunciation practice.


Photocopy the story below so you have more copies than the number of students in your class.

If you have 20 students in your group take 2 copies and if you have 30 take 3 copies and cut these up along the lines . For a class of 30 you will need three cut-up stories.

Lesson outline:

  1. Divide the students into groups of l0 (9 or 11 will do too.)

  2. Give each group a cut up story, making sure you give out the slips in disorder.

  3. Tell them these rules:

    • they have to sequence the story and solve the problem.
    • each person may only read her own slip of paper.
    • no looking at other people's papers is allowed.
    • no writing is allowed.

  4. Once they have found a/the solution, give each student a copy of the story.

The Story:

A philosopher went to visit a small town lost in an immense desert.

On arrival he decided he rather badly needed a haircut and asked if there were any barbers in this town.

There were two, he was told.

He was also told that the first was a very smart man with excellently cut hair and a very clean shop.

The second wore dirty clothes and his place was in a real mess. What's more his hair was horribly badly cut.

Neither the first nor the second had an assistant.

After hearing about the two barbers, the wise man wondered which of them to go to.

As he couldn't immediately make his mind up, he went and sat under a tree to think the problem through.

After thirty seconds thought he jumped to his feet and strode across the square to one of the barbers' shops.

Your problem is this: which one did he go to and why was he sure he was right?

Solution: The dirty barber cut must cut the clean barber's hair and the latter's hair is well cut.

Back to the top