Six palindromes and one nifty teaching activity

A palindrome is a word or sentence that can be read the same way frontwards or backwards. An example of a palindrome word would be “tenet” or “civic”. It gets more interesting (and fun) with sentences though. Here are six nice ones, and an idea on how to use these in class.



1. Madam, I’m Adam!

2. Step on no pets.

3. No lemon, no melon.

4. Dammit, I’m mad!

5. Was it a car or a cat I saw?

6. A man, a plan, a canal, Panama.

One way that these could be exploited in class is like this. Write the first one on the board but give the students three or four choices on what the last word could be.  For example…

Madam, I’m a) Adam b) Scott c) Janet

They probably won’t guess correctly. Give them the answer (but don’t say why). Now give them the next sentence, again with choices for the last word.

Step on no a) dogs b) pets c) cracks.

Tell them to look carefully at both sentences. Can they figure out why the last word is what it is? Continue this way with the other palindromes

Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 8:58 am  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nice one, L-boy!

    my favourite palin-sentence relates to Napoleon, who was exiled twice to two different islands, first to St Helena and then to Elba. The palin-sentence relates to the latter and begins: ‘Able was I ere…’

  2. Cool idea. I haven’t seen that before. Going to try it out for fun!

    • I did it last week with some upper intermediate students. They got it in the end!

  3. Hmm … I tried limericks with a bunch of Japanese students once, on a pre-sessional course, and they never got it. Since then I’ve decided to leave out attempts at humour and poetry from my teaching. After all, my classes are a bit of a joke anyway – and I usually teach without rhyme or reason!

    • Ah well, different strokes for different folks. Funny you mention limericks, I just did one the other week with some learners. It was for pronunciation practice. I will admit that the humour was a little bit lost on some of them, plus I hadn’t chosen really dirty limericks so perhaps they weren’t that funny after all…

  4. Yo! Banana boy!

  5. If you speak (or teach) French, you might be interested in George Perec’s 5000-word palindrome:

    Something to get the students do on a Friday afternoon when you’ve run out of ideas?

  6. My favorite was always “Satan oscillate my metallic sonatas”.

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