the dream

This activity gets your students engaged in building collective stories around focal vocabulary from a reading passage. I will be using this text, which presents itself rather well for this type of activity as an example.

american english

Out and About level 1, Cambridge University Press. Free sample from publisher here.

The students are asked to read and listen to the lyrics. The highlighted words are in American English. The students are also asked to say them in British English. Once the students do these tasks, get them into groups of 3-5. Give each group 12 cards or small pieces of paper (equal to the number of words/language chunks/expressions you would like them to review and practise). Ask the students to write the words on one side of the cards and put them in a pile.

The students, in turns, will pick the top card from the pile, turn it over and build a collective story in which they will be using the key words from the cards. The story will start like this: “Last night I had a dream. In my dream…”

I just used and fed the words into the box for the site to give me a random list. Here it is:


So the first student picks up the top card (“parking lot”) and starts the story: “Last night I had a dream. In my dream I was in a parking lot. It was really weird, because there were no cars. Just an empty parking lot from a shopping mall somewhere in America.”

The next student picks up another card. “I went there to buy a pair of sneakers, which were on sale. However, I couldn’t find any sports shops or shoe shops in the mall”.

Over to the next student. “So I hit the highway and drove home as there was nothing else I was interested in. I thought about watching a movie but there weren’t any that caught my eye”.

And so the story goes.


And now for something completely different that can anyhow get the students scrutinize the key words and will therefore be conducive to long-term memory storage. Tell the students that dreams about sneakers or parking lots or highways can be interpreted. So, still in their groups, ask them: What do you think a dream about sneakers might mean? Any ideas? I will give you a couple of minutes to discuss in your groups and then we can share the ideas.

If you have an interactive whiteboard or a computer and a screen, go to and show on the screen. Type “sneakers” in the textbox. This is what the site presents us with:


Elicit a few answers from the students before they get to see the dream interpretation from the site and then show them to compare (or just for fun).

Ask the students if there are any other highlighted words from the text that they are curious about interpreting. Let them discuss them in their groups and then take a look at what the website has to say.

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