Monthly Archives: September 2022

Sentence Translation? Yes, but Gambling

Ready for a fun, challenging collaborative activity? Here we go!

If you are thinking translation activities are boring, as I might have in the past, I am here to show you how wrong you are 🙂 . They can be fun and engaging, but most importantly, they help put the focus on structures or vocabulary students are struggling with.  I can almost guarantee learning success as long as you go over the translated sentences once the activity is finished. That’s key for fixing the target language.

This activity, which is really an adaptation of the game Sentence Betting, is easily one of my favourites when giving my students a writing activity. For 5 reasons:

  • All the class is involved
  • It focuses on specific problems
  • Students work collaboratively
  • It is fun and simple, but effective
  • it works well with any level.

Level: Any level


  • Sentences. Prepare some sentences to be translated in advance. I would suggest 5-6 sentences.
  • Slips of paper. Fold a regular sheet of paper horizontally and cut it in half. You will get two slips of paper (This is a good opportunity to recycle the back of spare photocopies). Cut as many as you need bearing in mind that each group will need as many slips of paper as sentences you will give them to translate, ie, if you are going to ask them to translate 5 sentences, each group will need 5 slips of paper.


  • Optional Money notes or Points. You can really play the game without money, but if you want to download some fake money, you can find it here. Alternatively, they can bet points.  All teams start with €1,000 or points.
  • The Betting Grid. Well, this will be later, to keep score, but it never hurts to know. On the board, draw a grid like the one in the picture below. This will help you keep score of the money teams win or lose.
  • A timer: to monitor the time. It is a good idea to display a timer so that students know the time they are allotted. Online, here

Time: about 20 minutes


The idea is to give students some writing practice, focusing on specific grammar or vocabulary in the form of sentences to translate. I like to give them a mix of easier sentences and more challenging ones. They will work collaboratively in groups and once they have translated the sentence within their groups, they will have to bet a sum of money depending on how confident they feel about their translation. They can win or lose this money. All teams will start with €1000,(choose the currency)


  1. Divide your class into small teams of two or three people. Give each team a number or a letter (Team 1, Team 2) or let them choose their own name.
  2. In advance, tell the class how many sentences they will need to translate.
  3. Explain you will give them one sentence at a time to translate, in my case in Spanish, and their aim will be to collaboratively, in their groups, translate the sentence.
  4. Not all the sentences pose the same difficulty, so the time allotted to translate the sentence will vary depending on the difficulty. Before they start translating a sentence, inform them of the time they have. It is always a good idea to display a digital timer on the board.
  5. Have groups write their sentences on the slip of paper clearly writing their Team number, letter or name.
  6. Once the time is up,
  • Ask Teams to bet money (or points) depending on how confident they feel about their translation. Write their bet on the board next to their Team number, letter or name.
  • Instruct someone in each team to hold the slip of paper containing the translated sentence up. Quickly go through all the translated sentences, adding the money/points they have bet if the sentence is correct and losing this money/points if the sentence is incorrect.
  • It is really helpful if you appoint a student to add scores on the board.

Note: Be strict with spelling mistakes or any other tiny mistakes. Students love it when you are strict and don’t give away the points easily.

  • Continue until all the sentences have been translated, at which point the team with the most points wins! Make sure the final question is challenging, it adds to the fun when there are two or more top teams!


Revision is a crucial phase in the process of fixing content. Once the activity is finished, do some oral retrieval practice. Read the sentences aloud, one by one, and have students orally translate them.

Want to reinforce? Repeat the activity the next day. I mean, the follow-up activity  🙂

Rewordify: Simplifying Text and Much, Much More

Looking for a time-saver? Here’s one! Free, online and you don’t even have to register. It simplifies a difficult text but can also work with the original text; it has a clickable built-in dictionary, the possibility of listening to the pronunciation of highlighted words and automatically provides a variety of printable activities based on the vocabulary of the text.

Rewordify, what else?

Imagine the following scenario:

  • The problem: You come across an interesting article about Queen Elizabeth II, such as this one from the BBC, but… it’s too challenging to give your students.
  • The solution: Go to Rewordify and paste your text  into the yellow box. Click Rewordify text.  Done!

Is it too simple? Do you need a more difficult version of the text? Would you prefer to see the highlighted words in a different colour? Would you rather see the original text and the revised text in two separate columns? No problem! Just choose your preference by going to Settings in the upper right corner.

  • The problem: you have a text that needs to be worked on but…you don’t want to rewordify it.  You’d like to work with the original text, click a word and read the definition and, there’s no harm in asking, also hear how the highlighted words t are pronounced
  • The solution: Select Display mode from the Settings menu, then choose the second choice: Don’t reword words/tap to see the definition.


  • The problem: Yes, Cristina. I agree, it’s an awesome tool! Pronunciation, definitions etc… But, I need my students to work a bit on the vocabulary and do some exercises and I don’t really have much time to prepare these activities.
  • The solution: Click on Print/learning activities and explore all the printable activities Rewordify offers you. A cloze text? No problem! A multiple choice quiz? Easy!!

Have a look below at all the possibilities


But that’s not everything Rewordify can do for you: If you need your students to work on Parts of Speech, Rewordify has you covered, too. To top it all, it’s free and online and you don’t even have to register. ( I know, I  have already said this at the very beginning of the post but there is no harm in repeating it, I guess) 🙂

PD: as always, this is not a sponsored post; I only write about what works for me.


Retrieval Practice Activity Using Cards for Any Level

And I am back. Yeahhhh!  Hopefully, I’ll have more time to write about all the activities that have worked wonders in my class. Hopefully.

But, before you continue I have an important announcement: I love retrieval practice activities! And this activity is all about pulling vocabulary out. Are you ready?


Whether you have just stumbled upon this blog or are a long-time visitor, you have to know that, first and foremost in my mind before I give my students a writing or speaking activity, is retrieval practice. We need to bring to the front of their minds the language we want them to use. If we don’t do it, what inevitably happens is that students will keep on using what they already feel comfortable using. And that won’t work. We are aiming at improving their level of English.

So, let me summarize this simple, highly-adaptable  idea.

  • Part 1: students, in groups,  revise key vocabulary using cards that contain the definition for the target language.
  • Part 2: students use these cards in a speaking activity.

NOTE: I am sharing with you the card template, but you can easily simplify the activity by just typing the definitions on a slip of paper. Me? I love visuals. I think they make a difference.

Now, that you are interested, let’s explain in detail:

  • Vocabulary. Choose some vocabulary you want your students to use and revise. It shouldn’t be new vocabulary. Remember, this is a retrieval practice activity. Type (if digital) or write the definition. Print and cut the cards. You will need a set of cards per group. As explained above, I love using visually appealing stuff, but you can easily simplify this part using scraps of paper.
  • Conversation Questions. Prepare some conversation questions related to the topic.

Here’s the template in Canva I have used. You will need to create a free account to download it. And here’s my version of this beautiful template created by Görkem Arbak Bilek.


STEP 1: Arrange students into groups of 3 and give each group a set of cards. Working together, they read the definition and try to come up with the word/expression that matches the definition. Ask them to use a pencil, as they might not get all the answers right.

STEP 2. Whole class. Check answers. Clarify. Work on pronunciation.  You know the drill!


STEP 1: Students in the same groups. Ask students to put the cards in a pile face down on the table.

STEP 2: Tell students they are going to do some speaking practice and the first student to start speaking, for example, will be the youngest, and then, the activity will continue clockwise. Let’s call him Student A.

Ask the first question and Student A will pick up a card and show it to the other students in his/her group. Student A will have about 90 seconds to answer the question, trying to use the word/expression on the card. If he manages to use it, he can keep the card.; if not, it will be returned to the pile.

I forgot to mention you would need a timer. You can easily find one on Classroomscreen

Repeat procedure for Students B and C and repeat until all the cards have been used or you run out of questions.

How many cards?  A multiple of three works well since we are working with groups of three students. Thus, 6, 9, or 12 will work fine.  If you revise 12 words and only give them 6 questions, that should be fine too. They don’t have to use all of them. As an alternative, you can instruct students to choose two words rather than just one and keep the one(s) they have managed to use.

Note: I have used this activity in C1. The topic was Relationships and the answers are as follow:

1.the main breadwinner 2. black sheep 3. the spitting image 4. to fall out 5. to take after (phrasal verb) 6. to see eye to eye 7. to keep an eye on someone 8. sibling 9. to be under age 10. To come of age 11. to get on/along with somebody 12. to make up

AND AGAIN. Yes. Again

Whole class now.

  1. Gather all the cards and review the target vocabulary again while providing definitions.
  2. Give each student a card. Have them read the definition aloud and give this card to the first student who answers correctly and manages to give a sentence using the word/expression. I guess you know who the winner of this little game is. A round of applause for the winner is a good prize. We are poor teachers, here.

I hope you have liked this simple game. If you put it into practice, please let me know how it goes.