Tag Archives: games

4 No-Prep/Low-Prep Games to Practise Big Numbers

I can’t believe I am starting a new course. Did summer fly? It surely did and here we are again, about to begin a new course and greet a new batch of students. Batteries? Fully charged?

It’s been donkey’s years since I last wrote a post and although this is the first after a longish break and one that should be devoted to first-day icebreakers, I have seen and read so many good ones lately that I felt I wanted to write about something completely different.

One of the problems my students almost always have is saying numbers, especially big numbers so, wouldn’t it be great to start the course working with numbers while having some fun? It never hurts to start the course in a light mood. God knows they will have plenty to study in the coming months.

Some boring, yet necessary things you might want to tell your students before you start playing.

BEFORE THE GAMES, REVISE

Before you start, it would be a good idea to revise how to say large numbers in English.  You can use this video for “inspiration”. Although the teacher in the video certainly goes out of her way to teach big numbers, I find that it”s not in my nature to go to such lengths so something that I always do and that my students enjoy is the following:  I start by writing a small number on the board and ask my students to say it. Then, I add a new number to its left, like this:

  • 5,
  • 35,
  • 635,
  •  4,635
  • 74,635
  • ..etc ( make it real big)

Every single time they have to say “and” (BrE), I make a gentle cutting gesture with my hand. Then I put them in pairs and they try with a new number.

THE GAMES

WHAT’S THE POPULATION OF…?

Ask students: Can you guess the population of the smallest capital city in the world?  As students make their guesses,  correct any mistakes they might still be making.

 Ngerulmud, the capital city of Palau an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, only has 391 people.

In this challenging game, students will have to guess the population of a given capital city or country.

  • Ask students to work in twos or threes.
  • Give each team a slip of paper. Tell them they will need to write their answer there, big enough to see from a distance.
  • Write on the board or display a picture of a well-known country or capital city and ask students to guess its population.
  • Allow one minute and then ask them to show their answer to the class and read the figure.
  • The team that is closest to the real figure gets one point.

 

THE PRICE IS RIGHT.

Have you ever watched The Prize is right” and wished you could play? Here’s your chance. If there is anybody out there who has never heard about this world-famous contest, here’s a clip from the contest to give you an idea of what it is about.

Rules of the game:  Participants try to guess the retail price of a chosen object.  Whoever is closest to the actual retail price without going over wins the object. If all the participants overbid, the lowest bid is announced and they’ll need to guess again.

Before the game: You’ll need to find pictures of different objects and bring them to class. A good source for pictures, description of the product and prices is Amazon, ( in case you are wondering, no, this is not a sponsored post 🙂 .If you like using new technology in the classroom, you can always make your own flip cards. (see mine here)

Note: Revise how to say prices in English and the name for the currency you are going to use in the game.

How to play in class:

  • Divide the class into teams of three.
  • Give each team as many slips of paper as objects you are going to display.
  • Display an object, give a short description of it and ask students to guess its correct prize without going over it. Allow 45 seconds.
  • Ask students to show the slip containing their guess and ask them to read the number aloud for the rest of the class.
  • Award one point to the team who is closest to the actual retail price.
  • Repeat procedure.

If you feel students are having difficulty guessing prices, an easier variation would be giving teams the first figure.

GUESS THE NUMBER

This is a very simple but effective game that requires no preparation.

  • Students in pairs.
  • Student A thinks a random number. Student B needs to guess it in as few attempts as possible.
  • Each time student A makes a guess, Student B should offer one of the following answers.

-My number is (much/ a bit) bigger
-My number is (much/ a bit) smaller
-Exactly! You did it!

A MAD RAFFLE

Before the class, select a few inexpensive things you want to give away such as some chewing gum, a pencil, a sweet, a sheet of white paper, a free homework pass…etc.

  • Tell students you’re feeling very generous today and with a lot of suspense and drama show the first item to be given away.
  • Briefly describe the item as if it were priceless: for example, tell them it is the first chewing gum that helps people pronounce English as a native… or some other silly reason.
  • Tell students that to get the prize they will need to guess its exact price.
  • Decide on a price but don’t tell your students. Remember that the chewing gum is unique so you want to give it a prohibitive price. Let’s say the retail price for the chewing gum is ₤ 765,888
  • Count the number of students and if there are 20 in class, tell them that the exact price is somewhere between ₤…. and ₤…. ( a window of 20 possibilities, ie, as many possible prices as students in the class) Write this range on the board.
  • Now, students need to shout out their guesses. Give the prize to the student who correctly guesses the price.

And you? Do you use any other games to practise saying big numbers?

2 Fresh & Fun Activities to Practise Both, Neither and Either

If you think that teaching both, neither and either is a bit boring, I have good news for you. In fact, I dare say great news!  It can also be fun!

It’s no secret on here that I love having fun in my classes but what people may not know is that although flexible when necessary, my classes are carefully planned and  games are not played just  to keep my students entertained; on the contrary, they are carefully designed and used to improve certain abilities and with a clear goal in mind. If at the same time we can have a nice time, that’s the icing on the cake.


1.SOULMATES

This is a team game and it aims at practising the structures

  • Both/Neither of them
  • Both… and / neither…nor

Materials:

  • 2 white cards with YES written on one side and NO on the other
  • Teacher’s here

PROCEDURE

  1. Divide the class into two or three teams.
  2. Ask the teams to select two people to play for them and take the “hot seats”. These two students will sit facing their team.
  3. Decide which team starts the game by tossing a coin. Let’s say Team A starts the game.
  4. Explain you’re going to give each of the two members of the team a white card withYES written on one side and NO on the other. Tell them you’re going to ask them 10 yes/no questions.
  5. Their team will score a point every time these two students show the same answer to the questions asked, and the team provides a correct sentence containing the target structure.
  6. Repeat procedure for Teams B and C and give a big applause to the winners.

Example 1.

  • Teacher asks: Have you ever scored 10 out of 10 in an exam? 
  • Student A: YES     Student B: YES
  • TeamBoth of them have scored 10 out of 10 in an exam / Both Mary and Peter have  scored 10 out of 10 in an exam (1 point)

Example 2.

  • Teacher asks: Have you ever scored 10 out of 10 in an exam? 
  • Student A: NO    Student B: NO
  • Team: Neither of themhave/has scored 10 out of 10 in an exam / Neither Mary nor Peter has scored 10 out of 10 in an exam (1point)

Example 3

  • Teacher: Have you ever scored 10 out of 10 in an exam? 
  • Student A: YES     Student B: YES (0 points)

2. CHANGING SCHOOLS

This communicative activity has two parts.

In part 1, students will have a conversation where the aim is to agree with their partner using the structures:

  • So do I- to agree with a positive statement
  •  Neither do I or  I don’t either- to agree with a negative statement

In part 2, students will report back to the class using:

  • Both/Neither of us…
  • We both…
  • Both … and … / Neither … nor…

PROCEDURE. 

PDF teacher’s here

  1. Ask students to work in pairs and give them Handout A and B.
  2. Ask them to complete the answers.
  3. Explain the context. You have just changed schools and you don’t know anybody in the class. You want to make new friends quickly and the best way, if not the most honest one, would be to agree with whatever the student sharing your desks says. So, five minutes before the next class starts you decide to strike a conversation with the student sitting next to you.
  • Start by introducing yourself and then ask your classmate some questions.
  • Your classmate will introduce himself and also ask some questions. Make sure you agree with everything he/she says using the structures.

So do I- to agree with a positive statement

Neither do I or I don’t either- to agree with a negative statement

  1. Ask students to report back to the class using:
  • Both/Neither of us..
  • We both…
  • Both … and … / Neither … nor…

Ex. Both of us have one brother/We both have one brother/ Both Peter and me have one brother

Neither of us can speak Norwegian/ Neither Peter nor me can speak Norwegian

Example Handout Student A


You might also be interested in the following

Some Activities to Teach Gerunds and Infinitives

I always claim that English grammar is easy, especially when compared to the Spanish or French grammar, but it gets a bit messy when it comes to verbs followed by infinitive or gerund.

The easy thing to say is that

  • some verbs are followed by infinitive (promise to go)
  •  some verbs are followed by gerund (can’t stand ironing).

But then we find that,

  • some other verbs are followed by infinitive or gerund with no change of meaning (start to study/start studying)
  • while some others are followed by infinitive and gerund with a change of meaning (stop to smoke/stop smoking)

And to add insult to injury,

  • some verbs are followed by infinitive with to (offer to help)
  • some others by infinitive without to ( make me study)
  • some verbs are followed by gerund, but if there is an object pronoun in between the verb and the gerund, then the gerund becomes infinitive (recommended reading / recommended her to read) …

Amazing, isn’t it?

Well, I suppose there’s nothing we can do about it, so let’s get down to some serious studying.


  • Level: Intermediate
  • Time: 60 minutes

THE GRAMMAR.

      THE PRACTICE:

Exercise 1. The Quiz


 


Exercise 2: The Rewriting Exercise


 


3.  Speaking and/or Writing: Storytelling Competition


  • Go to wheeldecide.com. Ask students to tell you verbs followed by gerund first, and then verbs followed by the “to” infinitive. Feed the wheel with these verbs.
  • Explain that in this activity they will need to seat in a circle in groups of 4.
  • Explain that you will write on the board the beginning of a story and then, in their groups, they will need to continue it.
  • Write on the board the beginning of a story. You can use this Short Story Generator.
  • Spin the wheel.
  • To make sure students will use the verb in the correct way, ask them to tell you whether the verb displayed in the wheel is followed by infinitive or gerund.
  • The oldest person in the group will start telling the story using the target verb in the wheel.
  • Give the student one minute to continue the story and then spin the wheel again for the next student.
  • If a student cannot come up with an idea to continue the story, he’s eliminated.
  • Continue until there is only one student left. This student will be the winner if he manages to give the story in his group a suitable ending.

Here’s the wheel I have used with my students.

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Irregular Verbs? Yes,Please!

My son Lucas was complaining he was going to have a permanent crick in his neck from spending hourrrrrs (or words to that effect) trying to learn irregular verbs in English when it occurred to me  there might be plenty of sites on the Internet to help students, and my own son in this case, with this seemingly daunting task.

And just as I predicted there are some cool sites that offer a nice alternative to the traditional pen-and-paper method of learning irregular verbs.

Hard to believe me? Then, try these games and I bet you’ll be delighted next time you are asked to study them. Dear Lucas, this post is for you!!!

Jeopardy Quiz Game

Fun activity to teach action verbs in the irregular past simple tense. It can be played in teams (up to 4). It is especially useful for teaching ESL intermediate learning and teaching.

Irregular Verb Wheel Game

An enjoyable game where irregular verbs are chosen at random from a spinning wheel. In this game you have 2 minutes to answer questions related to the verb forms of the irregular verbs displayed in the wheel. You get 1 point for every correct answer plus a bonus 10 points for every verb you get 100% correct.

Hangman Game

From eslgamesplus.com, the always entertaining hangman game; in this case, with irregular verbs. A great timed activity to review irregular verbs while reinforcing their spelling.

Irregular Verbs Walk the Plank

A fun activity where the teacher is presented as an animated character on a pirate ship about to be eaten by sharks. You’ll need to answer correctly all the questions to see the teacher being eaten by the sharks (don’t worry, there’s no blood!). A game for kids that I enjoyed a lot and played more than once 🙂

Create your own.

If you’re not happy with any of the games above, you can always create your own. Superteachertools gives you the possibility of creating your own jeorpardy quiz in a very easy way.

Who said learning English is boring?

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Vocabulary Competition: a Nice Simple Activity to Revise

A nice simple idea to start a lesson.

I always like to start my lessons doing some quick revision of what I taught the previous day. I do it using different techniques, but they always have something in common: they help get students into the mood and start using English from minute one.

The idea in this activity is to combine two things:

  • Revision of targeted vocabulary
  • Consolidation of relative sentences

PROCEDURE

  1. Divide the class into two teams and ask them to choose a person to play for them and take the “hot seats”. These two students will be facing their teams and with their backs to the whiteboard.(see picture above)
  2. Decide which team starts the game by tossing a coin. Let’s say Team A starts the game.
  3. Display the first word cloud on the board.
  4. Team A will choose a word or expression from the word cloud and define it for its player. Once the player has guessed the word, the teacher will cross it off and the team will define another one. For every word they guess, they will get 1 point. If the player for Team A doesn’t know the word, then Team B gets the chance to define the word for its player. If he guesses, the team gets 2 points for this word and this same team continues defining words and scoring points.
  5. Continue until all the words have been defined.
  6. Procedure is repeated again with word cloud 2. The teams choose other players to take the “hot seats”. Team B starts playing now.

As stated above, the idea is to revise relative sentences, but obviously in the heat of the game I’d allow any paraphrasing students can come up with.

Online Word Cloud used: ABCya. A word of warning: this tool is so easy to use that you’ll soon get addicted to it! See tutorial below.

Word Cloud 1

Word Cloud 2

Sentence Betting: a Vocabulary Revision Game

I’m really happy to welcome  again Angeles Jimenez as guest writer on the blog. Ángeles is a friend and fellow teacher from EOI Oviedo with over 25 years’ experience teaching adults and, in this blog post, she will be sharing with us a fun engaging game to revise vocabulary.

The Sentence Betting  game is a vocabulary revision game which requires students to recognize, correct and explain vocabulary related to the topic of work. It’s highly adaptable to any semantic field and it’s a great game to review vocabulary as end-of-unit activity and usually a lot more fun than the typical course book review.

Level: This game in particular works best with C1 students since there are difficult expressions B2 students haven’t studied yet.

Preparation: Prepare a worksheet for students to check for word-usage mistakes related to the topic of work. Include correct sentences in a random order.

Time: about 45 minutes

Materials:

  • A sentence betting worksheet (see handout).
  • Fake money or poker chips (optional). You can download play money here

How to play:

1. Divide the class in teams of 4 students. If you want to play with bigger groups, split each group into two teams.

2. Give each team a handout of the betting sheet. Allow them 10 minutes to go down  the list of sentences to decide and mark which one is either correct or incorrect.

They need to put a tick or a cross and bet a sum of money between 1$ and 5$ depending on how confident they feel about their answer.

3. The auction. Call sentences aloud one by one and ask each team to bet a sum of money stating whether they think is correct or incorrect. Display the answer on the screen. Ask students to fill in the 3rd column with the amount won or lost.

For example, if a pair of students bet 5$ on a sentence because they believe it’s true and they’re correct, then they win 5$. But if they get it wrong, then they lose that sum.

Students add up the figures both plus and minus. The winner is the team with the most money at the end.

Once a team has won the bet by correctly saying that a sentence is wrong, they have the chance to double their money again by correcting it.

Remind students that once the game starts you will limit the amount of time they have to decide if the sentences are right or wrong.

Variation: If you want to build up excitement, divide each group into two teams appointing a spokesperson, who will be in charge of reading each sentence aloud and giving the correct answer after each bet.

Tip: if you want to keep the activity fast-paced, it may be better to play in teams as poor pronunciation will slow down the game.

I’m Shamelessly Addicted to this Game

Yes. It’s true. I love this game. It’s just the right kind challenge for someone studying English.

The game is called Fluent and this is how it works:

  • There are 20 different trivia categories all dealing with grammar and vocabulary.
  • You’ll have to answer each question before you run out of time.
  • You have 3 lives.
  • You’ll need to answer 5 questions correctly to go to the next level.
  • As you level up, you are given less time to answer.
  • You can play it pairs (or 2 teams) and the winner is  the top scorer after 8 questions.

Ready for some fun, a bit of challenge and lots of learning. Here we go, then!

Click on the picture.

fluent

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Using Genial.ly to Create Visual Activities for the Classroom

Here I am again. Trying another tool.

To be honest, the tool was suggested to me by one of the teachers (Marga Valdés) attending a talk I gave last year. It was a talk about creating activities for the classroom using free online tools, and when I finished the presentation, this teacher came up to me and said she was surprised I hadn’t mentioned Genial.ly. I confessed to her I didn’t know the tool and promised I would give it a go.

It was almost the end of the course and although I gave it a quick try, my mind was in holiday mode, and I didn’t put my heart into it. Now, after trying the tool, I run the risk of becoming addicted to it!.

Genial.ly works like Thinglink but, in my opinion, it’s a lot better.  Genial.ly is a web tool to create engaging interactive visual content. You can make interactive pictures, infographics, presentations, posters and questionnaires or guides. And, for me, the best thing about this tool  is that you can choose from a wide variety of free templates to create very professional interactive content or you can upload your own pictures and start from scratch. It also gives you the ability to integrate videos, audio, and any embeddable code among other things.

THREE ACTIVITIES I HAVE CREATED USING GENIAL.LY
Using how long+present perfect in combination with simple past

Aim: To orally practise asking and answering questions using Present Perfect and Simple Past.

Competition: revising irregular Verbs.

Click on “instructions” to see how to play

 

Indirect questions + questions about money.

A speaking activity revising the grammar for indirect questions and questions about money.

 

10 Games and Activities to Practise Personality Adjectives.

Ten entertaining ways to  practise personality adjectives with activities for all ages and levels. In this post, you’ll find listening,writing, speaking activities and games to help students master this vocabulary.

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This is me.  

Ask students to work in pairs and write down as many personality adjectives as they can in two minutes.

On the board write three columns: positive, negative and neutral adjectives and ask students to provide adjectives for the three columns. Have students choose one adjective from each column to describe their personality and in pairs talk about how these adjectives they have chosen are representative of their personality. Ask students to elaborate on their answers and provide examples to support their choice of adjectives.

Roleplays
Prepare cards with a personality trait written on it (talkative, cheerful, arrogant, stubborn, immature, possessive…etc). Give students a card telling them this is their personality. Pair up students and ask them to start a conversation and act the way the card says until their partner guesses what adjective they were given. Ask students for example to talk about buying a present for the teacher or deciding on what do at the weekend.

Reading your signature.

What does your signature say about you? According to handwriting analysts, signatures reveal a lot about your personality.

  1. Ask students to write the sentence Write soon on a piece of paper and then sign under the sentence.
  2. Ask them to work in pairs and look at their partner’s signature and explain what it means. See interpretation here
  3. Ask them to discuss whether they agree with their partner’s interpretation and why or why not.

What’s your job?

Research has shown that different personality traits tend to have distinct preferences in their choice of careers. On the board write the jobs below. Ask students in pairs to choose five and discuss what personality types the jobs would attract and why. Then discuss their choices with another pair:

Tax inspector    Teacher      politician     computer programmer   librarian

Actor    fashion model    psychologist   entrepreneur   judge

Acting out

Prepare cards with personality adjectives. Divide the class into 2 teams. For each team’s turn, set a time (1 minute).

On the board write the sentence: I want to go to the cinema tomorrow.

Team 1 begins and choose a player to sit at the front of the class. The player draws a card and acts out the phrase according to the adjective on the card. When the team guesses correctly, he can draw another card. He continues until the time is up. The timer is set again for the other team, and turns continue until all the slips are gone. Count the slips and give those points to their teams.

Quotes.

On the walls of the class stick the following quotes. Students in threes stand up and discuss what the quote means and whether they agree or disagree with them.

  • Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. Bruce Lee.
  • It is better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for someone you are not. André Gide. 
  • If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am
  • Beauty attracts the eye but personality captures the heart.
  • Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
  • It’d never too late for what you might have been. George Elliot.

 

Guess who. A speaking or writing activity.

Speaking. Before the class, prepare a set of pictures of famous people with very clear personality traits. For this activity the students are sitting in pairs, one student (A) facing the board and the other (B) with his back to the board. Display the photo of a celebrity and ask student A to describe this person in general terms focusing on his personality.

Writing. Before the class, prepare a collage with pictures of famous people with very clear personality traits. Ask students to write a description of one of them focusing on their personality without saying their names. Descriptions are read aloud and students will need to determine the identity of the person being described.

The four big questions.

Tell students you’re going to analyse their personality by asking them four key questions to which they should answer using three adjectives for each question. Adjectives cannot be repeated.
1. Choose a colour, the first colour that comes to mind.
Once you have that colour, list three adjectives that describe it.

2. Choose an animal, the first animal that comes to mind.
Once you have selected an animal, list three adjectives that describe it.

3. Choose a body of water like a river, ocean, sea, or lake. Once you have chosen a body of water, list three adjectives that describe it.

4. Let’s say you are in a white room with no windows no doors, list three emotions that you are feeling.

When you are done answering those questions, highlight the following to get your results: your colour represents what you think of yourself, the animal represents what you think of other people, the body of water represents your love life, and the white room represents what you will feel like when you are about to die.

Birth order

Do you think birth order has any influence on our personality?

Ask students to work in groups of 4. Tell them they are going to see a video where personality is related to birth order. Assign each person in the group the task of writing down information they can gather from the video about either first borns, middle children, last borns or only children.

Whole class discussion. Starting with “first-borns”, write on the board all the information the students learnt from the video. Start a class discussion where first borns in the class will say whether they agree or disagree with the content in the video. Repeat procedure for middle children, last borns and only children.

 

Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe. also known as noughts and crosses or Xs and Os is a game for two players, X and O, who take turns marking the spaces in a 3×3 (3×4 in this game) grid. The player who succeeds in placing three of their marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row wins the game.

In this game, to place their mark they’ll need to talk for about two minutes about the question in the box.

 

 

 

Spinning the Wheel: an Engaging and Productive Speaking Activity.

This is a very simple communicative activity that works wonders because it is highly engaging, students love it and it is very productive. It takes 2 minutes to create and it is adaptable to any topic of discussion and suitable for all levels.

 

Aim: activating new vocabulary through discussion questions.

Levels: all

PROCEDURE.

  1. Easy peasy! Just go to wheeldecide.com and fill in one wheel with the target vocabulary and another one with the questions you want your students to discuss.
  2. Students in pairs
  3. Spin the wheel containing the questions and then, the wheel containing the word/ expression you want your students to use when answering the question.
  4. Student A has 2 minutes to talk about the question and use the target vocabulary. If he does, he scores a point.
  5. Spin the wheels again. It’s student B’s turn.

NOTE: When creating the wheel, go to the advanced section to choose colour and whether you want the option to be removed after it is landed on or not.

 

 

If you are a student and you’re preparing for exams or studying on your own, you probably have your own studying strategies, but I invite you to try this new one. I’m sure you’ll find it engaging and productive.

I ‘d like to thank Cristina Serafim for bringing wheeldecide to my attention.

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