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I had meant to post something deep and heavy (well, relatively deep and heavy) on dogme/teaching unplugged today, but it took me so bloody long to find a quote that I wanted to include that I don’t think I can tap that one out just at the moment. Instead, here is something fairly light, breezy, minimal and that you might be able to do in class tomorrow (by the time you read this, it might actually be tomorrow!)

Dictate the following short text to your learners, telling them that it is the voiceover for a tourism advert for a country in the world (in fact, you could narrow it down to Europe, but do not tell them which country!). Oh, make sure that you dictate ‘BLANK’ for whenever there is a missing word.

This is (a)_______, the only country in the world where women (b)_______ the legal right to marry four men at the same time.

Discover (a)_______, the country where people are riding zebras.

Come to (a)_______, and (c)_______ the fish fruit.

You know nothing about (a)_______, do you?

It’s time to (d)_______ and discover it.

Alternatively, write the text on the board and ask your learners to copy it and fill in the gaps.

Tell them that (a) is the name of the country being advertised, and (b), (c) and (d) are all verbs. They may well look at you funny given the slightly odd collocations in the text (riding zebras, fish fruit). Keep a straight face and do not give the game away. Encourage your learners to be imaginative!

The answer key is this (a) Romania, (b) have, (c) taste, (d) come. Tell your learners the answers for the verbs but don’t tell them the name of country. The verbs are interesting as they form part of collocations and an interesting lexico-grammatical phrase. Alternatively, just collect your learners’ suggestions and don’t tell them the answers.

have the right – verb + determiner + noun

taste the fish fruit – verb + determiner + compound noun

come and discover it – part of a semi-fixed phrase ‘come and do something’

Challenge learners to come up with similar or different collocations. Some more everyday examples: have a shower, have the opportunity/chance to do something (even closer to the collocation in the text here); taste the delicious food; come and see my lovely pad/house, try and have a go (changing the first verb in this phrase).

Ask your learners for their guesses of the country’s name. Then watch this short video clip to reveal the answer:

Romania! Ask your learners what they think. Is this the normal type of tourism advert they would expect to see? Why is it funny?

Compare it with this more serious advert:

Which advert is more effective? Why? Which do your learners prefer (which is more likely to get them interested in going to Romania)?

End with a discussion about advertising, tourism, or the Maradona of the Carpathians as you see fit.

Although, perhaps Nadia Comăneci would be more interesting… =)