It happened in my English class at high school, a couple of weeks ago, in a group of about 30 students, false beginners, aged 16-17. I had planned to deal with a song but there was a problem with the audio system so... plan B!!!
I told students I was going to read 10 sentences about myself and they had to guess if they were true or false. It was at the beginning of the school year and they didn't know much about me, so it was just guessing, using their intuition or finding out if I was lying. The sentences were simple, such as "I'm married", "I have a cat and a dog", "I live in big house", and "I don't smoke". I read, they listened, they helped each other understand what I was saying and they guessed. And we checked.
Surprise #1 It was fun checking and they were able to see how good they are at guessing, how intuitive they are... We got to know each other through a bit of English. It's amazing to see how gossipy high school students can be!
After that, I asked them to do the same, only shorter. They had to write 5 sentences about themselves, mixing true ones and false ones. I walked around, helping those who seemed to need it. When we started checking, I asked one student to read her sentences aloud and I told the rest that I was going to guess. And so we did.
Surprise #2 I can still see their faces, wondering whether I would be able to get it right, waving and nodding to help me out. They wanted me to guess, they really did. They seemed to enjoy the activity, and so did I.
And it didn't stop there! I asked another student to read her answers; this time she had to choose another classmate to guess, someone who wasn't so close and didn't know the answers beforehand. She read, somebody else guessed, we all listened.
Surprise #3 They wanted to listen and they wanted to read their sentences aloud. I could tell they were making an effort to understand and be understood. And they wanted to know about the one who was reading.
That day, only 6 students were able to write the 5 sentences and volunteered to read them aloud. And it was enough; it was meaningful, interesting and memorable. It helped me remember their names and learn about their interests and who they are.
The activity was really simple, the language involved was right for their level. Pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar were not a problem. They managed perfectly well; they practiced a bit of listening, speaking and writing. Plan B had turned out to be unexpectedly interesting; I had underestimated how much they want to know about me, how much they want me to know about them and how much they want to know about each other.