Set it up
Choose a sound effect that is made up of a few different elements (for example, a forest soundscape with running water, leaves rustling in the trees, and animal calls). Before you start the activity, ask the students if they have ever been in a very noisy place, or a situation when more than one person was talking.
1. Tell the students that you are going to play them a sound effect and that they should try to identify the different elements that make it up. Tell them to write this down as they listen.
2. Play the sound effect.
3. Allow students to compare what they have written in pairs or small groups.
4. If necessary, play the sound effect again (for example, if no one has managed to write anything down – if this is the case, encourage the students to make a guess).
5. Invite students to share their ideas about what they heard and how it made them feel.
6. Invite suggestions for refining the language the students use or make your own. Note any useful language that emerges on the board.
I think I heard some birds singing, how about you?
Was there the sound of laughter?
I could definitely make out engine noises.
7. Ask the students to write a short description of the soundscape, using some of the language on the board if they can.
It sounds like something from a rainforest. Maybe it could be in the Amazon. I could hear the sound of the animals, and there were roars and birdsong. In the background you could make out the trickle of running water, perhaps it was a stream or river…
You could use a piece of music or a song instead of a sound effect.