Games

Game 1: Compare these!

Focus: Comparisons

Skills: Speaking

Org: Pairs

Level: Pre-intermediate to intermediate

Give the students two words and ask them to think of as many ways in which they can be compared as possible. For example, you might write dog and feather on the board. The students can then make up as many sentences as they can, such as A dog is heavier than a feather. A dog is bigger than a feather. A feather is lighter than a dog. The pair with the largest number of comparisons can then read them out aloud; other students can add other comparisons. You then give the students another pair of words.

A variation on this activity is to ask the students to think of ways in which these two objects are similar. Of course, it is important that the students have practised making comparisons before playing the game.

Game 2: Word Cards

Focus: Ordering

Skills: Reading

Org: Groups

Level: Elementary to pre-intermediate

On small cards, write a large number of common words, as well as words that you want the students to practise using. Make sure that you have sufficient words in each grammatical class i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, adverbs, pronouns, articles and so on. Before you try this with the class, try using the cards yourself to ensure that you have sufficient types of words for each class. Place the cards in boxes marked with the name of the word class. Give each group a set of boxes with these cards. The groups then try to make as many sentences as they can, using the word cards in the boxes. When they have completed a correct sentence they leave it on the table. As the number of cards decreases, the students (in their different groups) can combine them in an attempt to make new sentences. Existing sentences can be broken up and recombined in order to try to use all of the words.

Game 3 - Make that word!

Focus: Vocabulary

Skills: Spelling

Org: Class

Level: Elementary to Intermediate

This can be done in the classroom, but it is probably easier (and quieter!) to play it outside. Each student in each group has one or more letters, and each group has the same collection of letters. The students stand in their groups and you call out a word that can be made from the letters that they are holding. As soon as the students hear the word (listening skill!), the ones with the appropriate letters run to an agreed line if they are playing outside, or the front of the class if they are inside, and correctly form the word as quickly as possible, using their letters. The first group to make the word correctly, with none of the letters upside-down, wins a point. This is a very successful game! It is also an excellent way to revise words that have been practised recently in class. It will need some preparation, but it's worth it!

Game 4 - Make a Sentence, or Two

Focus: Word order

Skills: Writing

Org: Pairs / Groups

Level: Elementary to Advanced

Think of a sentence (depending on the level of the students) and then write it out so that each word is on a separate card. For example you might give this to an intermediate group: He was surprisingly strong and when he shook her hand she thought he would crush it. Give them the cards in jumbled order and ask them to try to make a sentence using all of the words. They might make the one above, but they could also make other sentences, and any grammatically correct sentence is fine. This is excellent word order practice.

An alternative is to ask them to make as many different sentences as they can with the words that they have. Words can be used and reused.

Game 5 - Title: Draw the Word

Focus: Questions

Skills: Speaking

Org: Groups / Class

Level: Elementary to Advanced

This can be played as a team game with the class/group divided into two. Give a student a word and this student then attempts to draw something on the board that will help the other students in her team to guess the word. She can point to her ear to demonstrate sounds like and she can make other gestures although she cannot 'model' the object in the air. You may want to set a time limit of one or two minutes on the attempt by each student. If her team members guess the word, that team wins a point, and the student can have a second try. If the first team cannot guess the word but the other team can guess the word, they can win that point and then they can have their own turn.

Game 6 - Guess the Word

Focus: Describing

Skills: Speaking

Org: Groups

Level: Pre-intermediate to advanced

A commercial version of this game is called Taboo. You prepare a set of common words together with three or four words that cannot be mentioned when this word is defined. A group of about 10 students can be divided into two teams. You then give a student one of the words. This student tries to define the word without mentioning the forbidden words. If one of the words is mentioned, the student loses their turn and sits down. If the members of her team can guess the word then this student has another turn. The student tries to define as many words as possible within two minutes and is awarded one point for each word guessed by her team. This is a very popular game with intermediate to more advanced students. You may have to act as umpire.

Game 7 - Change the Order

Focus: Word order

Skills: Writing

Org: Pairs / Groups / Class

Level: Pre-intermediate to advanced

Give the students a short'ish sentence. Their task is to change one word at a time in that sentence whist still retaining a grammatically correct sentence. For example:

I like swimming in summer.

I like swimming in Greece .

We like swimming in Greece .

We hate swimming in Greece .

We hate swimming in rivers.

We hate living in rivers.

We adore living in rivers.

Good word order practice and good for stimulating crazy sentences!

Game 8 - How many ......

Focus: Grouping words

Skills: Speaking

Org: Groups / Class

Level: Elementary to pre-intermediate

Write a word (e.g. an object or place) on the board and then ask them a question or give them a task related to this word. For example, you might give them the word wood and then ask them to think of as many things as they can in one minute that are made of wood. Another example: give them the word shoe and ask them how many different things they can think of that can fit in a shoe. Other examples: How many things can you think of starting with the letter 's'? How many things can you think of that have rubber wheels? How many things can you think of that you would love to eat now! How many animals can jump over a table? How many things can you think of that are square? After each word, you can ask the students to report back their lists, perhaps starting with the student with the longest list. Other students may try to challenge some of the suggestions and this would provide an excellent basis for genuine language use.

Game 12 - How many ways?

Focus: Expressing an intention to leave

Skills: Speaking (in an appropriate register )

Org: Groups / Class

Level: Intermediate to advanced

Ask the students to think of as many ways as they can to indicate that they would like to leave someone else's house. For example, Look at the time! It's been lovely to see you again! Well, I've got to run. I must go. It's time I left. I'm off! I think I should go. Must be off now! Next, ask them to try to think of situations where these various expressions would be used. You will be able to think of other situations you can use in the same way. For example, when you want someone else to leave!

An alternative is to give them the various forms directly, and ask them to think of the situations when they could be used.

Game 9 - Hidden Words

Focus: Vocabulary

Skills: Spelling

Org: Pairs

Level: Elementary to advanced

Give the class one word of at least 8 letters (preferably more) and tell them to work in pairs. Their task is to make as many new words as they can from this original word. They will use the same letters as they find in the word over and over again, but each new word must not include a letter more times than it appears in the original word. For example, if there are two e's in the word, the students can use two e's in a new word. If there is only one letter t they can only use it once in a new word. The pair with the most words can read them out, and then other students can add their own words. You might want to list them on the board. This activity can be done in class as well as in their free time. You could have a competition with a prize!

Game 10 - Proverbs

Focus: Describing comparing

Skills: Speaking

Org: Groups / Class

Level: Pre-intermediate to Advanced

Students love learning about proverbs. Give them a proverb in English and, through discussion, work out its meaning. Then ask them to think of proverbs in their own languages that have a similar meaning. This is always an enjoyable activity because the students always love comparing their languages, and the way ideas are expressed. Possible proverbs: Don't put the cart before the horse. Let sleeping dogs lie. Still waters run deep.

A similar approach can be used with metaphors. He was caught red-handed. A stony silence. A rose amongst thorns. A babbling brook. The minutes crept by. Rooted to the spot.

Game 11 - Add a Word or Two

Focus: Linking words

Skills: Writing

Org: Group / Class

Level: Elementary to Intermediate

Write a short sentence on the board. For example: The woman drove the car. The students' task now is to expand that sentence in whatever ways they can by adding not more than two words at any one time. Encourage them to give you suggestions and write them into the sentence. For example:

The woman drove the car

The young woman drove the car.

The young woman drove the old car.

The young woman drove the old car quickly.

The attractive, young woman drove the rusty old car quickly.

Whenever a student makes a suggestion, write it into the sentence. If it is incorrect see if another student can spot this; if not, indicate with a gesture that there may be a mistake. See if someone can correct it. If they cannot correct it, do it yourself as a last resort. Try to speak as little as possible in order to encourage the students to speak and make suggestions and point out any errors. The aim of this activity is to practise word order and placing grammar items correctly in the sentence. Let the sentence build as long as possible.

An alternative to this is giving the students a long sentence and asking them to reduce it in any ways that they can (maximum two consecutive words at a time) whilst still retaining a grammatically correct sentence. Also very popular!


 

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