Another Time, Another Place

a project for Reported Speech

Teams design a scenario, a setting, and a quote. Then other teams are challenged with reporting it in other settings/scenarios. See how many they can do in under a minute.


The Setup

Put your students into groups of three or four. Together, they need to devise a scenario (what’s going on), a setting (where and when), and a quote. The scenario could be original, based on a real-life situation, or based on a work of fiction that much of the class is familiar with. It can be realistic or fantastical, silly or serious.

The scenario may include one or more props if they are relevant to the quote. Teams may also specify additional characters.

In addition to specifying the time and place of the scenario, each team should come up with an additional two or three locations and two or three times. Combinations of those alternative times and locations will be the settings for the reported speech. The settings may be absolute (e.g. 9pm, Thursday night, August 7) or relative (e.g. yesterday, three days later, last week).

Finally, teams need to think of a quote that needs to be repeated by other teams. The quote can be a thought-provoking revelation, the punchline to a joke, sage advice, or whatever else your students want it to be. The purpose of the scenario is to set up the quote, but the teams may include a few lines of dialog before the key quote if they believe that’ll help the quote’s effectiveness. The quote should include at least four point-of-view words (watch the video to see common ones) and should not take more than five seconds to say. And unless your class is ready for some more advanced grammar, the quotes should be statements (not questions, commands, or conditionals).

Teams need to write all this information down on a single sheet of paper.


All settings: The Daily Bugle; The Fortress of Solitude; Smallville; The Hall of Justice // Monday morning; Monday afternoon; Tuesday afternoon; Wednesday night. The characters: Superman; Supergirl; Lois Lane; Jimmy Olsen.

The scenario: It’s Monday afternoon and take-your-pet-to-work day at the Daily Bugle. Photojournalist Jimmy Olsen is working at his desk when a lava monster storms in and starts destroying the offices. But before the monster reaches any of the people, Supergirl arrives and quickly carries them to safety before fighting off the monster.

Later, Jimmy Olsen tells fellow reporter Lois Lane, “I was so scared this morning, but then she flew in here and saved everyone, even my dog!”

note: the point-of-view words used are ‘I’, ‘this morning’, ‘she’, ‘here’, and ‘my’.


The Challenge

Once the groups have finished their setup, and perhaps on a following day, choose one group’s scenario+quote (at a time, eventually going through all of them). That group should place labels around the room for their specified locations (perhaps one in each corner, or one on each wall), write their specified times on notecard (write with markers so it’s easy to see from a distance), and write down the names of the characters involved on nametags.

Next, give the materials to a second group. They should have all the information on the sheet that the first group made earlier, as well as the time cards and nametags. Students can slap the namecards on their chests to embody different roles. Any student in that group without a namecard can assist by holding up the timecards for example.

Once the second group is ready – meaning they’ve read through everything and understand it all (allow them to ask the first group any questions for clarity) – then they should explain the scenario in front of the class, perhaps by acting it out, then delivering the key quote. Make sure they’re in the right location and holding up the right timecard for this.

Next comes the challenge. The group can have a few seconds to plan, but once they begin they’re under the clock. The group must express the quote as reported speech after altering at least one of four factors: (1) the speaker, (2) the person they are speaking to, (3) the location, (4) the time. The group may change as many of these factors as they want. They may need to move to another location or hold up another time card to do this. See how many times they can do this.

Of course, don’t give points if they’ve said it incorrectly in the new scenario. And don’t give them points for saying it the same way more than once.


The Daily Bugle, Monday afternoon. Lois Lane is talking to Superman. “Jimmy said that he was so scared this morning, but then she flew in here and saved everyone, even his dog.”

The Daily Bugle, Tuesday afternoon. Superman is talking to Jimmy. “You said that you were so scared that morning, but then she flew in here and saved everyone, even your dog.”

The Fortress of Solitude, Tuesday afternoon. Superman is talking to Supergirl. “Jimmy said that he was so scared that morning, but then you flew in there and saved everyone, even his dog.”

Smallville, Wednesday night. Jimmy is talking to Supergirl. “I said that I was so scared that morning, but then you flew in there and saved everyone, even my dog.”

Notice that the only thing that really changes (other than including the word ‘that’) is some of the point-of-view words. With a different quote to begin with, backshifting the verbs might be needed as well.

Make note of the number of different iterations a team can correctly do before 60 seconds runs out, then do the same with another group and another quote. The team(s) with the most correct lines of reported speech gets a prize!

Check out Insights’s Indirect Speech Series to view our videos on Reported Speech and related topics.  In these videos, we share innovative teaching methods to make it easier for students to understand and remember grammar points.

Go beyond the videos with printouts, slideshows, bonus notes, and much more by joining with Insider Access or by downloading a Grammar Guidebook.  Visit our About Insider Access page to learn more!

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