Category Archives: Games

A Speaking Activity: Just a Minute Musical Chairs

Do you want enthusiastic students? Then, be enthusiastic yourself!

It is just amazing where you can get inspiration for your next class activity. Inspiration is capricious and might strike you while showering, running or watching YouTube videos.

To be perfectly honest, I do most of my thinking while I am driving to work. That’s probably the only time when I am not multitasking and can concentrate on only one thing: driving. And that is a far cry from the morning madness of preparing classes while at the same time thinking about the need to check the stew- that is almost always eaten with a lingering burning taste- or the shopping I need to do or the laundry I need to wash. While driving, I just drive. And think.

So, this activity sprang to mind while I was driving. As it is always the same road and I go on auto-pilot ( I am sure some of you can relate), I remembered a video I saw on Twitter of a workshop in an EOI in Madrid where teachers were playing what I think was, musical chairs. And it got me thinking.

Could I try it with my students? I teach adults and some of them are on the wrong side of 70. Will it work? It worked!

Before the game starts
  • Arrange the chairs in a circle. There should be one chair less than the number of students.
  • Write cards with some topics to write about. Alternatively, you can give each student a card and ask them to write a conversation question.
  • Without telling students, divide the class into two teams and write down on a piece of paper the members of each team. Don’t tell students which team they belong to. This will ensure that they won’t play tricks and save seats for a member of their team.
  • You’ll need some music. I have used my mobile phone to play”La Isla Bonita”

This game needs some rearranging of the class furniture. You will need to push the tables to the walls and form a big circle with the chairs. As my class is smallish, I use the hall just outside my class for this kind of activities. If the weather is nice, you can also take your students outside. I am sure they will be delighted.

Procedure
  1. Arrange the chairs in a circle. If you have 15 students, there should be 14 chairs.
  2. Tell students you have secretly formed two teams but they will not know the members of their team until the end of the game.
  3. You will need music and a timer.

Two options to play this game

Option 1.

  1. Ask students to stand inside the circle. Tell them that you’ll play some music and they will need to walk close to the chairs forming a circle.  When the music stops they should try to sit down on any available chair. As there is one chair less, one student will remain standing.
  2. Offer the student left standing the set of cards with the topic to talk about face down and ask him to choose one card.
  3. He will have to speak about the topic for 1 minute but if he pauses or hesitates, he will lose 1 point for his team. If he accomplishes the task, he will score 1 point for his team. You’ll have to keep track of the points awarded or taken off as until the end of the game no one knows which team they belong to.
  4. Repeat procedure as many times as you like. I have done it 6 times.

Option 2.

Everything is more or less the same but there is no music in this option.

1.The student standing in the middle need to say something along the lines of…

  • Move if you have a brother or a sister
  • Move if you have ever failed an exam
  • Move if you have ever lied to a friend

2. Again, the students left standing will choose a card and talk about the topic for one minute. The rules for Option 1 apply in Option 2.

Who wins?

Keep track of the number of points each team gets. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins! Reveal the names of the students in each team, add up the points and announce the winner.

What is my role as a teacher?

I am afraid I cannot just enjoy the game. I am teaching here and they are learning. So, while the student is making the speech, I am jotting down pronunciation slips and important grammar mistakes. When the exercise is finished, on the board I give them feedback as a whole class.

It is very easy for the teacher to overlook this part but for me, it’s essential my students understand that playing a game in class is only another way to learn.

Just remember, if you want enthusiastic students, be enthusiastic yourself! There is no other way!

Fun Lively Communicative Game to Reinforce I Wish/If Only

Who doesn’t welcome a bit of fun in the classroom, a light getting-out-of-your-seat activity? I can see no raised hands?  Right, we are all in for this game!!!

Before you continue reading. For this activity, you will need to have space in your classroom, which I don’t. Even though my class is U-shaped, it is still a small class. But, no problem.  Right outside my class, there is a big aisle where we can do this little activity and perhaps, who knows,  some students from other classes might want to join us. The more, the merrier.

We can do this game in two different ways or in both ways. Actually,  I did first Part 1 and then Part 2. Both equally effective.

Before the game: on the board revise the grammar for I Wish/ If Only.

The Game:

Ask students to form a big circle leaving the most space in the middle. They don’t have to hold hands or be excessively close to each other as long as they form a big circle and everybody can see everybody else.

This is how it works:

Part 1. The teacher asks a question containing I wish/ if only.

Shout the first question; for example, Who wishes they were rich? and instruct all the students whose answer is Yes to come into the middle of the circle and there, in pairs or threes, briefly explain their answers. Allow one or two minutes’ conversation and then, ask them to go back to their positions. Encourage them to use the target grammar in their answers.
What do students whose answer is No do? Easy answer: the same. The will need to pair up with the student who is closest to them explaining their answer.

These are the questions I have used. You are welcome to use them.

  • Who wishes they were abroad right now?
  • Who wishes they had a bigger car?
  • Who wishes they had studied harder when they were at school?
  • Who wishes they were thinner or fatter, taller or shorter?
  • Who wishes their neighbours were nicer people?
  • Who wishes they had a different English teacher? 😊
  • Who wishes they had chosen a different profession?
  • Who wishes they had a more positive attitude towards life?
  • Who wishes they could live to be a hundred?
  • Who wishes they could be president of their countries for just one day?
  • Who wishes they had more time to socialize?
  • Who wishes they had had more siblings?
  • Who wishes they had been born in another century?
  • Who wishes they had been born a member of the opposite sex?
Part 2. The students produce the sentences. The High-Five.

I have called this part The High Five. Still standing and forming a circle, ask students to think of a sentence about themselves they think people will easily relate to using I wish/ if only.

Students take it in turns to say their sentence aloud and at the same time move into the centre of the circle.  Anybody who feels the same way moves to the centre of the circle and gives a High-five to the person in the centre of the circle who has said the sentence.

Same procedure as above. In pairs or in 3’s ask them to briefly discuss their answer.

You can start by moving to the centre of the circle and saying:
I wish I could pass my English test ( Note: your hands will hurt from all the high fives you’ll get with this sentence)

Discourage sentences that might be too personal or too specific like
I wish my mother had come with me on that trip.

Remember that it is important to model first and give clear instructions so that students know what they have to do. You want everybody participating and nobody slowing the game down or feeling uncomfortable because they haven’t understood what they need to do. If necessary, use concept check questions( CCQ) to make sure everybody knows what to do.

Interested in spicing up your lessons? I ran face-to-face workshops helping teachers integrate technology in their classes in an easy way, using free online digital tools. Practical tested ideas that combine traditional teaching with modern techniques. Fun and learning, a win-win!

From teacher to teacher. In English and in Spanish.