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‘Say it’

Structured speaking activity using a grid based on reading.


  • To practise language recently met in reading


  • Student arrangement – individual performance in a group (the focus is on individual performance rather than communicating information)
  • Information distribution – all students have the same information
  • Student focus – meaning
  • Language modes – speaking and reading



Write a worksheet with grid of small tasks based on a reading, with letter and number references. (See Teacher considerations.) For example:





1 Say why … Name 3 … What did …?
2 How did … feel …? Explain how … Who was …?
3 In your opinion …    

Students read the text.

In groups, students take turn doing the tasks in the grid. They use the worksheet to ask others to perform a task by giving box coordinates, for example, one student says “C1”. The next student in the group performs the task in box C1, and then names another box for the next student.

Teacher considerations

Put a range of tasks in the boxes of the grid, from simple factual questions, to more analytical questions, to those asking the reader’s opinion. Questions can also focus on the meaning of specific words.

Different ‘Say it!’ worksheets for the same text can be targeted to groups of learners at different levels within the class.


Use ‘Say it!’ after a listening task.

Show the grid to the whole class on a projector or write it on the board. Conduct the activity with the whole class. (This can train students to later use the grid independently in groups.)

This can be a kind of mini role play if each box in the grid asks students to speak in the role of a character in the text.

Use ‘Say it!’ as a stand-alone activity (without using a text) to introduce students to very simple role play. The grid tasks can be, for example: “Pretend that this is your first day at a new school. Say your name and where you come from.” Or “You have just got home from school. Tell your father what you did at school. Tell him about your new friends.” (Nation, 1988, p. 22)


Level 3 – myths and legends, for example, the legend ‘Māui goes fishing’. Find a version of this story in Māori that is suitable for your learners and their level of proficiency. Prepare a grid similar to this one, with items that match the text you use.





1 Where did Māui hide? How did Māui’s brothers feel when they found him? What did his brothers do when they found him?
2 Explain how the North Island looks like a fish. Why is the North Island mountainous, according to this story? Describe the hook that Māui used.
3 Talk about your own fishing experiences. What did Māui use as bait? Explain why the South Island is sometimes referred to as Māui’s canoe.


‘Say it!’ tasks give students support in their speaking in the low-stress environment of a small group.

It helps students’ learning of the language in the text by requiring them to use the words in their own sentences.

Evaluation of the task

Was there a good range of questions in the grid?

Could the students answer the questions?

Did the students answer the questions in their own words, rather than reading directly from the text?


  • Nation, I. S. P. (1988). Communication Activities. English Language Institute Occasional Publication No. 13. (p. 22)
  • Nation, I. S. P. (1995). Teaching Listening and Speaking. English Language Institute Occasional Publication No. 14. (pp. 134–145)
  • Nation, I. S. P. (2000). Creating, Adapting and Using Language Teaching Techniques. English Language Institute Occasional Publication No. 20. (pp. 21–22)

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