The Internet TESL Journal

Headline Completion

Gerard Counihan
profesorSs [at]

Low intermediate and up
To generate verbal exchanges
Step 1
Get any newspaper at all and select some headlines which are liable to trigger off the imagination (in fact, almost all can do this). For example, the following appeared in my local newspaper:
"Only 4.7% of Basques fail the drink-driving test".
Step 2
Remove part of the headline. In my case I ended up with the following:
"Only 4.7% of Basques ..."
Step 3
Show it to the students and ask them to complete it as naturally as possible, using some imagination of course. My students came up with the following:
  • ... Donate blood (and it is true)
  • ... Play the saxaphone
  • ... Go to the cinema at night in summer (it is true)
  • ... Are rich
  • ... Travel by plane
  • ... Go to the opera
  • .. Don't believe in esoteric matters (tarot, astrology ...)
Step 4
Once you get the finished product, you can merely write it down, or seize upon it immediately and start a debate. In my case, we ended up speaking about "donating blood" for almost 20 minutes.
If you haven't got a newspaper, invent your own "half-headlines". Here are some:
  • President Clinton says ...
  • Father tells son/daughter to ...
  • Famous adventurer ...
  • Hungry man ...
  • Love-sick man/woman ...
  • Daring thief ...
  • (The list is endless.)

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. IV, No. 8, August 1998