Lesson:Cleft sentence flip prompts

From Teflpedia

This flip prompt activity provides quick and intense (semi)controlled practise of cleft sentences.


  • Students will need two sheets of (scrap) A4 paper and a pen(cil)


  • Students cut/tear up each sheet of A4 into eight small squares.
  • On eight of the squares, they should sketch simple facial expressions/emotions e.g. "happy", "confused", "thoughtful", etc.
  • On the other eight tabs, they should write random nouns, noun phrases or activities e.g. "skyscrapers", "species which have gone extinct", "skydiving" etc.
  • The teacher collects all the prompts and shuffles them, keeping the two piles separate.
  • Pairs/threes are formed.
  • The teacher redistributes sixteen of each prompt (facial expression/words) to each pair who then place them in separate piles face down in front of them.
  • Taking turns, each student flips over one tab from each pile and makes a cleft sentence based on the prompts they see. For example, on revealing the following two prompts...

First flip prompt Second flip prompt

  • ...a student might produce the sentence "The thing that confuses me about museums is how they make a profit", or perhaps "What puzzles most people when they visit dinosaur museums is how the skeletons are held together".
  • The teacher monitors the activity, eliciting and drilling corrections.
  • Pairs who finish quickly can swap sets of prompts and continue.


For weaker classes, a substitution table can be displayed to support the speaking task, which has the added benefit of lexically representing the grammar of subject cleft sentences (rows 1 and 2) and object cleft sentences (row 3). One such substitution table is as follows:

1 The thing that... makes me annoyed/depressed/sad about/when ... is/are (that)...
2 What... annoys/depresses/saddens me about/when ... is/are (that)...
3 The thing (that)... I find annoying/depressing/saddening about/when ... is/are (that)...

See also[edit]