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Humanising Language Teaching
Year 4; Issue 3; May 02

An Old Exercise

Switch Sentences

This exercise is taken from Challenge to Think, Christine Frank et al. OUP 1982

Aim: to get students to look closely at the meaning of a statement by contrasting it with a statement which contains the same words but in a different order. The exercise is designed to provide short intensive discussion.
Level: Upper intermediate

In class:

  • Pair the students
  • Get them to look at the first statement below and discuss what it means
  • Then get them to switch the subject and object round and discuss the meaning of the new sentence:
      Example: The women formed the club
      The club formed the women
  • When they undestand the difference in meaning get them to look at the specific examples of the meaning of the two head statements, listed after them. They classify these as belonging to the first statement, the "switched" statement, or to both.
  • Tell them to do the same steps with the the three statements in bold at the end of ech section below.

1 The women formed the club.

  1. Coffee, knitting and gossip.
  2. Y.W.C.A.
  3. Entertainment for middle-class housewives.
  4. Voluntary work - who is helped?
  5. 'And the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.' (T.S.Eliot)
  6. Leaders emerge.
  7. Personalities clash.
Television created idleness.
Money doesn't mean happiness.
The newspapers influence public opinion.

2 Schools are like prisons.

  1. Education for life.
  2. Work without pay.
  3. Preparation to live in society.
  4. Rehabilitation
  5. Are they there too long?
  6. Why a uniform?
  7. They don't learn enough.
  8. Why do they come back?
Government invades privacy.
The entertainer delighted the audience.
Children need their parents.

3 People cause accidents.

  1. One-parent families.
  2. Death toll on the roads alarming.
  3. Most accidents happen in the home.
  4. The housewife is accident-prone.
  5. Contraceptive methods don't always work.
  6. Keep medicines out of reach of children.
  7. Prevention is better than cure.
  8. When you drink, don't drive.
Freedom means responsibility.
Rich men help their country.
Houses are homes.

4 All children become adults.

  1. Why do we need more old peoples' homes?
  2. Give them something to learn and do.
  3. They need toys.
  4. They need attention and care.
  5. The family rejects them.
  6. They get new teeth.
  7. She doesn't know how old she is.
  8. The older she gets the sillier she becomes.

People shape the environment.
Talking isn't always communication.
People control machines.

5 Industry determines the landscape.

  1. Skyscrapers on the Spanish coast.
  2. Atomic reactors being built in Britain.
  3. Forests and rivers dead.
  4. Antartica.
  5. Nuclear waste a major problem.
  6. The motorway system expands.
  7. Why is London a city of over ten million?
  8. The surface of the Moon.

Women have the same potential as men.
Criminals are the reason for prisons.
Fashion influences people.

6 To live to eat.

  1. Overweight is not healthy.
  2. His trousers don't fit any more.
  3. Butter mountain.
  4. To be slim is modern.
  5. Thousands die of heart disease.
  6. Thousands die of malnutrition.
  7. Enough for our need, not for our greed.
  8. More education on nutrition is required.
All students are intelligent people.
Politicians are in the hands of the people.
Without workers there would be no strikes.

7 When wages rise they inflate prices.

  1. A fair day's pay for a fair day's work.
  2. Greed.
  3. The pursuit of profits.
  4. The oil crisis.
  5. The decline in living standards.
  6. Do prices ever come down?
  7. Falling behind and catching up.
  8. Price control and wage restraint.
Programmed learning makes programmed people.
Gravediggers presuppose corpses.
Marriage prepares you for divorce.

8 Unemployment causes poverty.

  1. Living on the dole.
  2. The destruction of communities.
  3. The Third World.
  4. Emigration.
  5. Industrial deserts.
  6. Education and training costs money.
  7. Unearned income.
  8. I'd be lost without a job to go to.
Action is no good without reflection.
Being tired makes people emotional.
Prostitutes degrade society.

9 Animals are our friends.

  1. Guide dogs for the blind.
  2. Keeping up with the Joneses.
  3. R.S.P.C.A
  4. I'd be happiest on a desert island.
  5. Wanted: good home for a kitten.
  6. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
  7. Everyone except me is overweight.
  8. Why kill to eat?
The more we learn, the less we know.
The truth destroyed the myth.
Foreigners are nasty people.

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