So, I have been teaching modals recently and I wanted to make modals of deduction a little more interesting. Voila: here we go.
This lesson has a lot of reading, which should give the opportunity for some past tense work as well as lexis.
It’s a murder mystery and the students work out who did it from clues, gives them the chance to work as pairs.
It is a challenge; I haven’t really altered vocabulary too much. I hope though that it gives them some good reading, grammar and speaking work.
It is also a long one, so I am serialising it. The next section is here: https://textploitationtefl.com/2017/07/18/murder-mystery-part-3-4/
Aim: to practice modals of deduction / create opportunities for using them in speaking. Reading practice and vocab building.
Level: Pre-Int / Int / High Int / Upper Intermediate (The lower levels will find it challenging, but that is fine, as long as you tell them it will be, and provide lots of scaffolding and support)
Start with the reading – Part 1.
The aim of the gist is just to get the students thinking about the set up of the story. For me the answers are all in the text except for the 4th question, which is all about opinion. Some students said they were rich, others poor. At this stage that doesn’t matter, but encourage them to justify why they think that. Here is also a place for them to use modals so you could board some examples.
E.g. He’s sat at a desk so they might have a study so they could be rich. / They have two floors so the can’t live in a flat.
- She is the dead man’s wife. / widow
- They are married
- He has died
- We don’t know, but see above
- Not in London – “she was away in London”
Ask the students to write 3 sentences describing the situation using could / might / must in the present.
The vocab section encourages learner autonomy, try to discourage them from using dictionaries.
- a) wrist
- b) icily cold
- c) slumped
- d) tut
- e) pulse
- First use of modals: monitor and board examples, correcting errors and encourage them to think about the pronunciation of have – /əv/
- Group feedback – see what the students think – get them to talk to each other in groups.
- board examples and correct errors
(Feel free to do other normal textploitation things, such as focusing on the tenses used. I use it to ask the students what the pronouns refer to as I often find these are overlooked.)
Ask the students to underline the uses of ‘it’ in the text.
The room felt icily cold as she walked into it. Her fingers felt for the light-switch on the wall. It was never where she thought it was. She found it and suddenly the room was bathed in light. Her husband was where he normally was, at his desk. He was slumped over and was sleeping. She walked over to the desk, put the lid onto the open bottle of whisky, and tutted. She didn’t like him drinking so much, but he always did when she was away in London. She ran a hand through his hair. He felt cold. She pushed him back so that she could look at him. It was then that she realised something was wrong. She stared at him, he wasn’t breathing. She grabbed his wrist, no pulse, nothing. Upstairs her son was woken by the sound of uncontrolled screams.
what does each one refer to?
- the room
- the light-switch
- the light-switch
- the moment she pushed him back
Reflection: Ask students how the text would be different if ‘it’ hadn’t been used.
N.B. I was unsure that my students had fully followed all the details of part 1 so I asked them to act it out in small groups, I had 12 so I put them into groups of three, one of them being a director and telling the others what to do. I was surprised how willing they were and it ended up being really good as a way of checking understanding in a different way and gave the class a different feel.
Prediction: Encourage your students to take guesses about the victim from the photo and only then let them read the report to check their assumptions.
Students read the police report, take notes and discuss ideas as to what has happened, have their ideas changed?
Ask students to decide if the following questions are true or false – ask them to try to answer from memory – they can check after.
- He has been married once.
- He sometimes plays golf.
- He owns a company making computers.
- He is well off.
- false – he is a keen golfer and member of the club, probably plays more
- false – distributes components / parts
- true – owns two houses
Read the forensic report and ask them to match the definitions to the words in the text.
- a) the deceased
- b) appeared
- c) condition
- d) intruder
- e) other substances
- f) laboratory
- Ask the students to take notes and then compare them in groups. I played the recording 3 times.
- Then ask them to decide which pieces of information was the most important for the case.
Below is the tapescript with the sections I think most important underlined
Hi is that the chief inspector? Good, good. This is Laura Donavon from the lab. Right, I have some information for you. Mr Brown did not die of natural causes. In fact, from the tests we’ve carried out on his body we are 75% sure he died of poisoning. Yes, I know. We examined the crystals in the glass and it was definitely poison. Now, this is the really interesting bit. We think it was cyanide, and I know what you are thinking, but let me tell you a bit about cyanide. It can be swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin and it stops people being able to take in oxygen, causing an ‘internal asphyxia’. The victim suffocates to death as he breathes in oxygen he cannot use. Yeah, not very nice is it. Yeah, yeah, effects are almost immediate. Oh, and you might want to know something about this, it can be made from the stones of fruits as well as from chemicals, so something for you to think about there. Yeah, good luck with the enquiry.
Once the students have understood this, ask them to reflect on what they know so far and what they think may have happened now.
More to come soon and let us know what you think.
P.S. thanks to Jess for recording the text for me. x
Word Doc: Murder Mystery part 1 & 2
PDF Doc: Murder Mystery part 1 & 2
4 thoughts on “Modals of deduction – A murder – Part 1 & 2”
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Fantastic lesson! Thanks for your efforts. My students really enjoyed this.
One suggestion: add a estimated length of lesson?
This took me 4 hours (2 two hour classes) and even then it was rushed, so I skipped some bits.
Intermediate students found the accent in the Jim Birch recording nigh on impossible – haha.
But thanks. A great resource!g
Hi Cam, Thanks for that. Yes it is a very long one, it was a sort of goodbye to a class. I think I did it over 2 wks serialised – including part 3 & 4. I will have to relisten to the Jim Birch recording. It may be me doing a dodgy accent.