Reading takes us to faraway places even though we may have never been there. It stimulates creativity and conjures up vivid images in our mind that television and film often present to us on a plate. Reading also helps us to develop cognitive skills, which our brain uses to think, remember and reason. Getting lost in a story can also help us reduce stress as we are transported to other realms. In short, there are innumerous benefits to getting engrossed in a text, whether short or long.

In previous posts, I have talked about flash fiction, which can be defined as short fictional work that, even though brief, still offers character and plot development. Examples could be Twitterature that are short stories containing 280 characters, 50-word minisagas, poems, nursery rhymes and fables. This genre could also include ultra-short stories such as nanotales, nanonovels, microfiction and sudden fiction.

Below are some flash fiction activities you can use in the ELT classroom to encourage your students to read in English. After all, the more exposure to language they have, the more they will increase their vocabulary and develop their language skills. The drawings were hand drawn by two young talented artists.

ACTIVITY 1

Level: B1 onwards

Instructions: Show the students the following picture. Ask them to describe what they can see and what the picture means to them.

Illustration by Rafael Zanotto

Give each pair of students the following poem, which is about the picture. Ask them to fill in the gap, unjumble the words in italics and decipher what the pictures mean.

In groups of four, ask students to discuss the following topics.

  • Do you think some people act differently on social media to when you meet them face to face? Can you give any examples.
  • Some people get anxious when there is no wi-fi connection. Have you ever had this feeling?
  • How do you think life would be without the Internet?
  • Look at this definition of the “rat race” in the Cambridge Dictionary: a way of life in modern society, in which people compete with each other for power and money.

Do you think that living in the rat race is a healthy lifestyle? Why/Why not?

ACTIVITY 2

Level: B1

Instructions: In pairs, ask the students to look at the picture below. They should tell each other what they can see in the picture and what it reminds them of.

Illustration by Isadora Dahmen Carbonero – @idahmen

Tell the students they are going to read a haiku, which is a Japanese poem. It has three lines. The first line has 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables and the third line 5 syllables. Give a copy of the poem to Student A. In pairs, student A should read the poem aloud to Student B who should write it down. Afterwards, Student B can compare their version with the copy.

In pairs, ask the students to invent a haiku about anything they want. The poem should follow the structure of 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables.

Encouraging students to read in English every day, however short the text may be, is a plus for their language learning. Have a look at these links for more ideas of flsh fiction: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/oct/12/twitter-fiction-140-character-novels
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/4718163/A-thousand-ideas-in-fifty-words.html