Task Activity Project

Task Activity Project


Lesson Context:

  • Age: Early 20s
  • Level: Intermediate – Level 3
  • Class Size: 10 students
  • Setting: EAP (English for Academic Purposes) / Listening & Speaking class
  • Lesson: Tenses Review: Primary Narration: Past, Past Perfect; Supplementary tenses: Present, Present Perfect


I will use this activity as an assessment tool for my hypothetical lesson unit plan on “The Past Tense” for my Level 3 Listening & Speaking class. In my lesson unit plan students learned how to use verb tenses in the simple past, past progressive, past perfect, and past perfect progressive.  They also learned the seven component parts that make up a narrative story.  We discussed the three different types of narrators: 1st Person, 3rd Person with Limited Perspective, and 3rd Person with Omniscient Perspective.  As a whole class we read the Wizard of Oz plot outline and used “Freytag’s Pyramid” to outline the story-line into its seven component parts.  The students also retold the story in 3rd Person with a Limited Perspective.

This activity asks students to plan an itinerary for a hypothetical vacation.  I believe that this type of activity is a life skill that is important.  There’s a possibility that at their age (early 20s) they’ve never gone away on a vacation or maybe they’ve never organized or planned one.  They will learn to have a discussion and come to an agreement on where they want to go. This activity is also a great way to get them to tell a story in a real-life personal narrative.

Prior to starting work on the “Past Tense Task Activity”, I will have students work in pairs and do the “Relating an Incident” role-play activity in order to activate schemata on storytelling:

*********RELATING AN INCIDENT—ADDING COLORS (DETAILS) Book: Theater Games by Viola Spolin*********

Purpose:          For students to add “color” details to their stories.


Pair Work:  Student A will tell Student B a simple story that is 5-6 sentences long.  Student B will retell the story, but will add additional “details” to enhance the story.  Students switch roles.


After students do this exercise, I will hand out the “Talking About a Vacation Using the Past Tense” task activity to students and commence work on this authentic language-based activity.   This activity is divided in 3 parts:

  1. Part I / Week 1:  Students will get in pairs and write a vacation itinerary.
  2. Part II / Week 2 – Homework: Students will continue to work with their partners on the details of their trips (i.e. the names of the hotels, the prices for some of the activities, making their budgets fit with the trip itinerary, etc.)  They will also make a story outline for their imaginary trip and can use index cards to outline the story.
  3. Part III / Week 3: Students will perform their role-play skits in front of their classmates.  I will audio record their narrations in order to be fair in grading them.

Student Handout:


GOALS:  You will work in pairs and write an itinerary plan for a vacation.  You will also perform a role-play skit where you will talk to a group of your friends (the whole class) about a trip you took to ___________.  Since we’ve learned how to build a story, you need to with your partner to make up a story about your (imaginary) vacation.  You will relate your experiences using the past tense form to everyone in class.


  • Work with a partner and create an itinerary for a dream vacation or one that you’ve been thinking about; therefore, you will negotiate and decide on a vacation that both of you agree upon.
  • Once you’ve written your itinerary, you will use your imaginations and make up a story about your trip.  You will discuss what happens each day and decide what events you want to emphasize (high light). You might choose to envision a quaint, relaxing vacation; or one where something goes wrong; or a trip where you find love.
  • You will hand in a typewritten itinerary.
  • You will rehearse outside of class (in person and/or over the phone) talking about the things that happened each day on your trip.  You have to make all of this stuff up. You can use the “Freytag Pyramid” to help you outline your story.  Your story doesn’t have to be highly dramatic, but it should have at least one conflict (i.e. you missed the train, you forgot to wear sun-block and got sunburn, you lost your snorkeling group and joined the wrong group, etc.).
  • You will decide what parts of the story each of you will tell the audience (your friends).
  • You can use and refer to index cards to help you remember the sequence of events. (You can not read off the index cards.)
  • Your role-play should be five to ten minutes long.


  • This is a Listening & Speaking class, therefore, you are only to practice your story orally and not write a script or memorize any lines. The purpose of this project is to get you to negotiate meaning with your partner and to repeatedly retell your story over the phone and/or in person–this simulates real-life story-telling, where you recount the same story to different people, and every time the story is not told in exactly the same way. The audience is an important part of story-telling; the same story is told differently to your parents, co-workers, siblings, and friends. The audience for which you are going to tell your story is to a group of your friends.  You are adults and you know that lying is wrong–this is an exercise and should be viewed as such.


Pair Work:  You will make a plan to go on a vacation.  You have to negotiate and make a choice that both of you are happy with. The trip has to be at least a week long to two weeks maximum. Your trip can (hypothetically) take place anywhere in the world: it can be a beach, trekking, cycling, or relaxing kind of a trip.  The options are endless.

Together you will write an itinerary with the following items:

  1. WHERE: A place where both of you want to go.  This includes: What country?  What hotel(s) or accommodations will you plan for?  Are you going to one country or two or three countries?
  2. WHY: Why do both of you want to go to this place(s)?
  3. WHEN: When do you plan on going?  How long will you vacation there? (Minimum of 7 days long—Maximum of 2 weeks.)
  4. HOW:  How will you get there?  By airplane, train, car?
  5. BUDGET:  How much money can you afford to spend on this trip?
  6. WHAT: What will you do?  You must plan a day-to-day itinerary for each day of your vacation.  You must have at least three detailed activities that you’re going to do each day.  (A week-long trip = 21 activities; A two-week long trip = 42 activities.)
  • Example trip to Cancun: Day 2: 8-9am Breakfast@____ where they serve Mexican food.  12-4pm Snorkeling trip; 7-8pm Dinner @______ where they serve contemporary gourmet food; 9-? Drinks @ the “________Bar”.  Try to come up with a variety of activities, and you can also repeat some activities.
  • You can use bubble mind maps to help you outline the different kinds of activities you would like to do on your imaginary trip.  You might have several categories (i.e. Must-Do activities; Restaurants, Inexpensive activities; Sight-seeing, etc.)


You will type up your itinerary (include the six points listed above). You will also research your destination trip and include the specific places you’re going to visit (see grading criteria below). You will rehearse with your partner (over the phone and / or in- person) and create a story with the seven component parts of a narrative (see grading criteria below).


Each team (pair) will perform their role-play skits in front of the whole class. You have to pretend that you’re at a dinner party with your friends and you’re telling us all about your vacation.  If you’d like you can bring pictures to help you narrate the story, but this is not a requirement.  The audience (friends) will ask you questions too, but we’ll try to keep the questions to a minimum so as not to ask you about things that you haven’t thought about.  Feel free to include some of your real-life personal vacation experiences in your role-play skit like: feelings, doing activities, ordering food, entertainment shows, sight-seeing, miscommunications because of language barriers, etc. You can use and refer to index cards to help you remember the sequence of events. (You can not read off the index cards.)


    •  WRITTEN ITINERARY (1 POINT): You must hand in a typewritten itinerary for your trip. It must include the six points in Part I / Week 1.  Please try to be as detailed as possible: The name of your airline, hotel, sight-seeing places, etc.; Your budget: the cost of airfare, hotel (all-inclusive package?), the cost of some of the activities (at least four). If you’d like you can include maps, pictures, etc. (This is not required.)
    • GRAMMAR (2 POINTS): You will be graded (individually) on your use of verb tenses. For the most part you will use the past tense frame. At times you can switch over from 3rd Person Plural to 1st Person Singular to simulate actual dialogues (e.g. We got into an argument. I said, “I can’t believe you are being so selfish.” etc.) There will also be times when you’re going to use Present Perfect and Past Perfect (e.g. “I have never felt so sure of myself.” “We had walked about an hour before we saw a human being.”)
    • ROLE-PLAY SKIT (7 POINTS): You will also be graded on your story development and how you use details.
      • Example: Don’t just say “We had fun all night.”  Instead tell us how you had fun: Student A: “We saw this great show that had about thirty dancers on stage.  Their costumes were amazing!”  Student B: “Yeah, they wore outfits from the 20s and danced in the aisles too.”
      • You should rehearse with your partner (do not memorize any lines) and outline the events you want to emphasize (highlight), and how long it’ll take you to relate them to the audience. (You can use & refer to index cards to help you with sequencing, but you can’t read off of them.)
      • We’ve learned that in a story outline there are 7 parts to a narrative story.  I will grade you on the following criteria (I will audio record the role-plays):
        1. Exposition/Introduction: Talk about why you chose that country and place to go on your vacation.  How did you get there?  What hotel did you check into? How did you feel when you first set foot off the plane?
        2. Initial Incident/Conflict:  You can include the “conflict” anywhere in the story, and it doesn’t have to be highly dramatic.
        3. Rising Action: Describe all of the events in your trip.
        4. Climax: Was there a particular activity that you have always wanted to do and finally got the chance to do it on your vacation? Or maybe you met someone special on your trip. Or maybe you met a famous person.  Or maybe you realized something about yourself.  This is where you tell us the most interesting part of your story.
        5. Falling Action: What happened after the climax?  How did it feel to do the activity that you’ve always wanted to do?  Or were you sad that your trip had come to an end?  Or were you glad that you were heading home?
        6. Resolution: How did your trip end?  Did you end up fighting with your partner and then made up?  Did you solve the conflict?
        7. Message:  What did you learn on your trip?  Was there a message?  Did you feel like you had accomplished something?  Did you learn something because of your conflict?  What did you get out of it?