Tag Archives: games

Infinitives pair work activity

Kitty:   What do you want to do?
Cow Boy:  I want to go to Tokyo to eat cakes

For this activity I have to thank mes English for this one.   They provide a perfect template for the game “Get 4” to practice many grammar points or for simple vocabulary practice.

The reason I am posting it today is that I have used it in my Elementary classes right up to my adult learners.  It has been a success every time.

Like any activity I change the rules to suit the abilities and needs of my students.

In the ideal classroom, all students behave perfectly and never cheat.   However, this is never the case, so I always look for the best ways to make this activity fool-proof.  Even this one can have it’s faults, but you have to try to trust your students a little sometimes.

Today I used it for practicing infinitives;


A:  What do you want to do?

B:  I want to go to Tokyo to eat cakes.


Infinitives GET 4

(image to follow)

Ingredients:
  • 1 worksheet per pair of students
  • an enlarged copy (I enlarged it to A1) to use to demonstrate the game to the class.
Directions:
  1. Split your class into pairs
  2. Give one worksheet per pair of students
  3. 1 student is X and the other is O
  4. Play RSP to decide who is A in the dialogue
  5. For the sake of explanation the student who is O starts by saying to X, ” What do you want to do?”
  6. Student X chooses the squares he/she wants, such as,  “I want to go to Tokyo to eat cake”
  7. Student O looks for that square then marks an X in that box for student X.
  8. The students switch roles.
  9. In short, X student marks Os square with an O
  10. O student marks X‘s sentence with an X

I find this variation of the rules cuts down the potential to cheat and encourages more listening and speaking.

I hope my directions were clear enough.  The students really get into this activity.  I found that even the slow learners participate well.  Success.  I just hope they can remember the structure for the next lesson without too much re-explanation.

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.

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.