Category Archives: TEFL

REWARDS For Young Learners

Rewards are always a great way to promote positive reinforcement in the classroom.

Here in Japan the students are really motivated to collect stickers, which is why I have added this post sharing with you the sticker sheets I hand out to the students from grades 1 to 7

Please feel free to use them in your classes, or simply use them as an idea to customize your own, using characters you know your students love.

This year I have used a continued theme of  ‘Mario Kart’ in the classroom.

I have also printed and laminated all of the ‘Mario Kart’ characters in colour for use in team games for the students/teachers to easily mark points on the board.

They can also be used as players in chalk/white board soccer/baseball.

Another use is for playing ‘Shark attack’.  A game similar to ‘Hang Man’, but using a set of 3 stairs and a shark in the water at the bottom of the stairs and 1 Mario character at the top of the stairs (I will explain this game in more detail later, if you are unsure of the rules)

Anyway, below are links to my reward sheets.  I hope you find them useful.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Looking forward to hearing your thoughts

Suzie 😀

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Game of the Day, ‘STOP THE BUS’

Below is a game I really enjoy playing with my students.  The joy about this game is that it’s completely adaptable for all levels of students and really challenges their vocabulary.

I play this often with my English club students, who really get into it, especially loving the competitive nature of the game.

I have attached a worksheet which you can download easily and adapt to your students abilities.

This is another activity which requires little or no preparation if you are looking for something effective and enjoyable for both you and your students at minutes notice.

Please click on the title to download;

STOP THE BUS


Ingredients:

  • 1 worksheet per pair of students

Directions:

  1. have the students make pairs (you can have them in 3s or 4s if you like)
  2. give each group a worksheet
  3. draw the first ‘stop the bus’ grid on the board with a space for each teams answers.
  4. Choose one student in the class to stand and say the alphabet in their head (I usually have them play ROCK SCISSOR PAPER to decide who does this)
  5. Have another student shout stop for the alphabet student to stop on a letter of the alphabet
  6. That student calls out the letter he/she stopped on
  7. Use that letter for game one (each grid has 3 games)
  8. When a pair/group of students completes all categories they have to shout, “STOP THE BUS”
  9. At that time all teams must write on the board the answers they came up with
  10. If any team have the same answer neither team gets a point for that word
  11. Points are only allocated to words which no other team has used.

Cards with Activites

Making sentence pairs SNAP


This is a sentence building activity where students in a team of 2,3 or 4 race to make as many sentence pairs as they can.  When there are no more combinations they check how many pairs of cards they found.  1 point for every correct pair.

  1. Give 1 set of cards to each team
  2. Teams spread the cards out, face up on their table
  3. When the teacher shouts START or READY? GO! the students race to collect as many pairs of cards as they can find make a correct sentence.
  4. When there are no more combinations, students count how many pairs they managed to collect. 1 point for 1 correct sentence.

Another use for these cards is to play the very well-known SNAP game.

  1. After shuffling the cards, divide them equally between the students, face down.
  2. Starting from the left of the dealer, put the top card face up on the desk. Continue in the same way around the group of students, clockwise.
  3. When the cards make a pair, all students must race to slap all the cards saying “SNAP!” (this means pair)
  4. Only when the student says “SNAP”, he or she can take the cards, if the student doesn’t say “SNAP” when slapping the cards, the other students can steal the cards by slapping that students hand (which is on the cards) saying “SNAP”.
  5. If the sentence is wrong, then all cards go to the student on the right of the s who slapped on an incorrect pair.

My third use for these cards; (this is a variation on the ‘Whispers’ game)

  1. divide the students into teams of up to 8 students
  2. give a set of cards to each team
  3. spread them face down a desk at the front of the class (one desk per team)
  4. tell the students at the back of each team a sentence (from the cards)
  5. ss whisper their sentence down the line as quickly and clearly as they can.
  6. When the whisper comes to the ss at the front of the line that student must run to the front of the class and try to find the correct sentence combinations.
  7. Take note of the teams who finish in places 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc…
  8. When all teams have found 2 cards tell them the correct sentence pair, then give points to the first 3 teams who finish correctly.

Card game. My name is ~ and I’m ~

These set of cards were inspiration from the students interest in the very popular, well-known Mario Kart computer game.

I have used them in all grades in elementary school, simply changing the level of English in each grade.

Cards are perfect as you can use them for the entire lesson, but just changing the game.

For these cards, here is my first use;

  1. split the class into teams of 8 students each.
  2. Have them make a circle
  3. give one card to one student in each team
  4. Using the key phrases “My name is ~.  I’m ~” ss pass the card around the circle, with every s saying the same thing.
  5. When the card has reached the end the students in that team quickly sit down.
  6. The fastest team gains points.
  7. Play 2 or 3 times changing the card each time.

Game 2:

  1. In the same teams students stand in a line
  2. spread all cards out on a table set at the front of the class
  3. give the 1st student in each  team a balloon, which they have to hold between their knees.
  4. You then say the key sentences “my name is ~. I’m ~”
  5. Then the students with balloons have to race to get that card from the table at the front.  When a s has found the card, he/she has to race to the back of the line, still holding the balloon.
  6. If the balloon falls, that s has to return to where he/she started.
  7. If the s makes it to the finishing place, all team members sit down as quick as possible to gain a point.

3rd use:

Interview activity:

  1. Students walk around the class
  2. ss make pairs
  3. ss play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who starts talking
  4. the winner says what is on the card
  5. the loser then says what’s on his/her card
  6. ss play RPS again.
  7. The loser gives the winner his/her card, then comes to collect a new card from the teacher.

Q & A then Pass that toy. Multiple Relay.

Teaching with limited resource games and activities are invaluable to ESL teachers.    When you are short on time to plan or when you have to come up with a filler to see you through the last five minutes of class, these games are perfect.

First on the list is a conversation relay game suitable for classes of up to 30 students, however it works best in classes of 10 – 15 students.

LEVEL:   starter – lower intermediate .

5 ~ 15 mins

Materials needed:  1 small soft toy per team

Aim:  Asking and answering Q based on any grammar point.  (The example below focuses on plurals)

  • First arrange the students in 3 teams or 5-7 students per team.
  • Give the student at the front of each row a soft toy.

s1 to s2 –  “Do you like tomatoes?” (this s passes the toy to s2)

s2 to s1 – ” Yes I do.”

s2 to s3 – “Do you like hamburgers?”(s2 passes the toy to s3)

s3 to s4 – “No I don’t.”

s4 to s5 – “Do you like pineapple?”

Ok, can you see a pattern forming here?

  • This continues until the last student in each row answers, who then has to call out YOUR name, saying “Susan, here you are” You must only respond when the student calls your name.
  • The s throws the toy to you.
  • You must stand still on a spot at the front of the class, and try to catch the toy from there.
  • Only if you catch the toy, award a point to that team.
  • The student at the back of the row must then run to the front.
  • Pass the toy quickly to the s who is now standing at the front for the game to continue.
  • This is a very repetitive game, which I have found practices the key sentences with success.
  • It’s a fast pace TPR (Total Physical Response) activity, which the ss of all levels respond to very well.

If you have a larger class, but still want to play this game, this is another perfect opportunity to get the JTE involved.

You can use this for elementary through Junior High, simply changing the grammar point or choice of vocabulary.

Variation:

Make this game a little more difficult by telling the students that everyone in the team has to ask a different question.

ESL 4word

I’d like to begin this blog with a few activities which have helped me become more competent in the classroom.  Activities which you can pull out of the bag at short notice.    If you are new to this game of ESL teaching, then you will find this will happen more often than not.

Being prepared is always important, but you don’t need me to tell you that, do you?

First and foremost, you want the learners to speak in as much natural English as possible, but when it comes to explaining the rules of activities and games, you really should use the simplest of English.

I firmly believe you can explain most games with as little as 4 words per point,  including a LOT of gestures and demonstration.   Doing this will avoid all use of complex expressions and phrases.   I know it’s important to speak naturally, but keep in mind,  it’s the activity that teaches the important key sentence, grammar point or vocabulary,  so don’t get so hung up about how you explain the rules of the game.  If you find you struggle with this,  take a note of what you want to say before you enter the class.

Remember, keep it simple.   That way, you can move “4word” faster. (sorry, I couldn’t resist using that there 😀 )

Here’s an example of what not to do,  It may seem simple to you, but your students wont think so.

“OK every one, I’d like to show you a new game, which is a lot of fun.  It’s called the ‘English Ping Pong’ game.  First of all, you must make 2 lines, making two teams.  Now, the students at the front of each line must look at me with their hands in the air as if they are about to press a buzzer on a game show.  Those students have to quickly shout, “PING PONG” When they know the word of the picture flash card I show. The student to name the card correctly gains a point for their team.  Those two students run to the back of the line and the game continues like this until every one has had a chance to name 3 or 4 cards each.” OK everyone, do you understand? …Let’s get started, are you ready? GO! “

Can you see the obvious problems here?

If  you are teaching low learners they won’t understand a word of what you have said.  They will switch off after your first 4 words.

Try this instead, (this may look wordy, but you’ll find that when you are in the class, it’s not.

  • gesture splitting the class into 2 teams, saying “team 1”, then moving to the other side of the class saying, “team 2”. (already I am using limited directions, using only two words at a time).
  • using a gesture and saying to the class “stand up”. (two words)

Next, gesture, to team 1, saying, “make a line, here” (4 words)

  • Do the same with team 2 on the other half of the class
  • Next, looking at the students at the front of each row, using gestures, moving yourself into the students place,  say, “look at me.” (I gesture with both hands, my fingers pointed at my eyes, for “LOOK AT…”, then of course pointing at my face when I say “…ME”)
  • Now gesture for them to raise their hands as though they are about to press a buzzer on a TV show.
  • Demonstrate this saying “PING PONG” (ss love sound effects)
  • Also explain that if they say “HAI” the can’t answer (again using gestures, an obvious one is making an X with your arms). then say, ” Not, Hai, but, PING PONG” (4 words)
  • Say, “Are you ready?” then show your first card (3 words)

Teacher – (flash card)

Student 1 (Nana) – “Ping Pong!”

Teacher – “Nana, go”

Nana – “It’s a penguin”

Teacher – “That’s right!”

  • Have the JTE take note of the points, then after a round or 2 assign the flash card role to the JTE and you take note of the points.
  • The object of this game is to keep it fast and exciting whilst speaking English.
  • If you have a large class, simply split the class into 4 teams, with the JTE taking 2 teams and You taking 2 teams.
  • The students who win the point can add their point to their team before running to the back of the line.


I love this game, but I always keep it fresh by adding some twists and variations now an again. The joy of this game is you can adapt it to a lot of levels of English from revision of  various tenses to practicing various categories of vocabulary.

What also adds a little extra fun to this particular game is the use of an actual buzzer or bell, however, to warn you, there might be tears and sore hands.  So the buzzer, adding a little excitement, may actually be too risky in lager classes.   I have used the bell once, but the kids to enjoy the “PING PONG” part.