ESL Games: Fractured Fables

The Game: Fractured Fables is a game that provides a means to learn English without students being aware they are studying.  The game’s context of putting sentences together helps make the foreign language immediately useful to students by bringing the target language to life.

Research Says: It is easier for EFL students to acquire language when they are without stress (Using Games in an EFL Class for Children, Y. Yong Mei and J. Yu-jig, 2000); Fractured Fables allows exactly for this kind of stress-free learning.

Materials

  1. Literature appropriate for the activity and student interest/level
  2. Copy machine
  3. Scissors
  4. Envelopes
  5. Markers

How to Play.

  1. The texts are discussed preceding the introduction of the game or upon completion of the game.
  2. Students individually or in groups assemble the fractured fable.
  3. The fables are read in class to determine the proper order.
  4. The class agrees on the order of the fable and compares this version to the original version.

How to Make It

  1. The teacher selects a number of fractured fables from public domain. (The example used for this game is found at  gutenberg.org).
  2. The text is copied and cut into a certain number of pieces. (One copy is kept intact, and used for a comparison.)
  3. The pieces of text are placed in an envelope labeled with the title of the fable.

Variations

  1. Different types of text can be “fractured” to include newspaper content, nonfiction and fiction based on the reading level, ESL skills, and interests of the students. Student writing can also be used.
  2. The text can be cut into any number of parts based on the ability level of the students. You can start small by cutting the text into three to four parts (a clear beginning, middle, and end) and work up to more parts.
  3. Students can work in groups to assemble the fractured fables/other content.
  4. The game can be played competitively. Points can be awarded to the first team that arranges the fable/other content in the right order.
  5. Students can write their own fables/content to use to be “fractured.”
  6. The fable/content can be reviewed during another lesson period before a new one is introduced. Discussions center on main idea and detail, punctuation, word connectors, etc., and other distinguishing features that help determine the “proper order” of a text.
  7. Students can be challenged to arrange more than one fable/piece of content (i.e. the ones that were completed for review, and a new one each class period).
  8. Instead of competing and having the groups of students work on the same fable/content, different fables/pieces of content are listed on a chart and students must complete all of them within an allotted time frame (a few days, one a day, within a week, etc.) The teacher must check each completed text before the students move on. Or one student is assigned per text to be the official checker.

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Example (original fable): The Young Crab and His Mother (from The Project Gutenberg Ebook public domain The Aesop for Children with pictures by Milo Winter, released Dec. 2, 2006).

“Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?” said a Mother Crab to her son. “You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out.”

“Show me how to walk, mother dear,” answered the little Crab obediently, “I want to learn.”

So the old Crab tried and tried to walk straight forward. But she could walk sideways only, like her son. And when she wanted to turn her toes out she tripped and fell on her nose.

Moral: Do not tell others how to act unless you can set a good example.

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Example (fractured fable cut into 4 different parts): 

  1. “Show me how to walk, mother dear,” answered the little Crab obediently, “I want to learn.”
  2. Moral: Do not tell others how to act unless you can set a good example.
  3. So the old Crab tried and tried to walk straight forward. But she could walk sideways only, like her son. And when she wanted to turn her toes out she tripped and fell on her nose.
  4. “Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?” said a Mother Crab to her son. “You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out.”

______________________________________

Example (fractured fable cut into 8 parts): 

  1. “Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?” said a Mother Crab to her son.
  2. “Show me how to walk, mother dear,” answered the little Crab obediently,
  3. But she could walk sideways only, like her son.
  4. And when she wanted to turn her toes out she tripped and fell on her nose.
  5. Moral: Do not tell others how to act unless you can set a good example.
  6. “You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out.”
  7. So the old Crab tried and tried to walk straight forward.
  8. “I want to learn.”

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Read Marc’s other ESL Games posts. Marc’s previous blogs with TESOL as a guest blogger include the highly popular “Best Language Learning Games” series.

About Marc Anderson

Marc Anderson
Marc Anderson is the CEO of online English training company TalktoCanada.com that teaches English online to students around the world. During his free time he likes to read, travel and enjoy life.
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