An ELT Glossary : Jumbled text activities

In a jumbled (or scrambled) text activity, learners see sections of a text - eg the paragraphs or the individual sentences - out of order, and have to reconstruct it by putting the sections in a logical order, eg by noting indicators of cohesion and coherence, or by making logical inferences based on their knowledge of the world. For example, to reconstruct and fully understand ...

  1. There were several people there so he thought she must be running late.
  2. He walked in, sat down, picked up a magazine and started reading. 
  3. John looked into the waiting room.
  4. However, one of the others was talking loudly on his phone and he found it impossible to concentrate
...they would need to understand :
  • that John must have an appointment with a doctor, dentist, solicitor or other professional who would have a waiting room in their office and time appointments with clients
  • that John would see the people when he looked in
  • that He in sentence 2 and in sentence 1 refers anaphorically to John while she refers to the doctor (or whoever) he had the appointment with
  • there refers anaphorically to the waiting room
  • that the waiting room is elided but understood after He walked in..
  • that he is elided before sat down and  in the waiting room is elided afterwards
  • again, he is elided before picked up a magazine 
  • that magazines are often found in waiting rooms and that these are magazines you can read - not magazines of guns etc, and therefore that the magazine is elided after reading 
  • that his assumption would be that if they were running late, he would have to wait, so reading was a way to pass the time
  • that However indicates concession, and therefore that  a problem is going to occur
  • that others is a pronoun substituting for the other people in the waiting room
so that the logical order is  3, 1, 2. Understanding this involves using reading subskills such as recognising reference and substitution, ellipsis, recognising the function of connectives etc.

NB : Not to be confused with Jigsaw Activities