Making small talk

Introduction:

These are two board games to practise the art of making small talk.  I have created two games with questions on the same topics but version A is for lower level students and version B for higher level students. Different font colours on the board correspond to different topics: work, sport, family, travelling, food and entertainment. This activity is a great way to help students practise speaking, develop fluency and prepare for exciting conversations with English speakers in the future.

Also I find these games extremely useful since most of us are now teaching online. You simply display a board game on the screen and that’s a speaking activity sorted for you. Do not forget to feed students new vocabulary and obviously draw their attention to mistakes. 

As always encourage students to ask each other additional questions and comment on each other’s responses. Do not let it be a monologue. I often tell students that if I asked them the same questions in a bar or outside the classroom, the conversation would flow much more naturally so aim towards that and have fun.

Level: A2

Objectives:

  1. To practise speaking about work, sport, family, travelling, food and entertainment.
  2. To master the elusive art of small talk. Sorry, the weather is not one of the options;)

Materials (Click on the worksheets below to download the PDF files):

  1. Making small talk A
  2. Making small talk B
  3. A die ( use an online dice roller) and a timer ( or no timer, play around and see what works for your group)

Procedure:

  1. Give students a copy of one of the board games or display it on the screen if you are using Zoom or any other platform. Choose the board game depending on the level of your students. 
  2. Tell students that they have just arrived at a party and they are about to start mingling. Of course all of them are trying to make a great impression on others, network or even find the love of their life 😉 so being a boring conversationalist simply will not do this time.
  3. The teacher now throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  4. The player(s)/ partygoers must then answer the question and provide their ¨classmates¨ with as much detail as possible. If you have a bigger group, split your students into pairs or small groups at this stage. Encourage students to ask additional questions and try to make sure the conversations don’t run dry too quickly. 
  5. When the teacher throws the dice again and moves on to the next question, the students could speak to someone else this time.  You don’t want them to be “stuck” in a corner for the rest of the “party” speaking to the same person.
  6. At the end, ask students to name people they would like to have another conversation with based on how well the previous one(s) went and how interestING and interestED the speaker(s) seemed to them.

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You’ll never guess what

Introduction:

This is a You’ll never guess what  board game which is great for revising vocabulary or maybe filling up a slot if you are running out of materials at the end of the class. It is an extremely versatile game and can be used for any age group and different levels of students.

Level: A2+

Time: 30 minutes but it can vary depending on the number of students and the variations of the game

Objectives:

  1. To revise and/or expand vocabulary

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

  1. You’ll never guess what board game

Procedure:

  1. Hand out You’ll never guess what board game to each team or simply display it on the screen if you are using Zoom or any other online platform.
  2. The teacher or a student throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the category.
  3. Now teams/students must try to think of as many words as possible that fit that category. Give the teams a set amount of time to come up with their answers. Depending on the level of your group you can also choose a letter of the alphabet for them. I then asked my students to not just list their words but to DESCRIBE them to the other team(s) to encourage speaking, defining, explaining and interacting. I always try to use vocabulary in context and avoid simply listing words. What I also did, was to ask students to WAIT until the other team finished describing and awarded points for correct guesses BUT only allowed them to guess TWICE. It works beautifully as the students don’t just shout out the answers but actually pay attention to the descriptions and think before they answer. I have given you some other variations of the game which you will find at the top of the You’ll never guess what board game.
  4. Monitor and also use this opportunity to feed students some new vocabulary. One idea for introducing new vocab and maybe starting the game could be to come up with your own list of words from each category, that your groups are unlikely to know, (1 word is enough) and make it a race among individual students/teams to match the words to their categories. At the end of the class/ activity you could test them and see how many new words they remember or encourage them to use the words throughout the game.

 

P.S. Thank you for the new design Stu 😉

To err is human

Introduction:

This is an activity for lower intermediate students to review some of the most common mistakes they make in an entertaining way. The students correct the mistakes in the sentences on the board. If they manage to do it correctly, they add either an O or an X to the board until they line up 6 symbols in a row. The mistakes in the exercise are genuine  mistakes made by my own students on a regular basis.

Level: B1

Time: 30 – 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To identify and correct common mistakes made by lower intermediate students.
  2. To line up 6 symbols (O or X) in a row.

 Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

  1. To err is human board game one per team or display on the screen for everyone to see.

 Procedure:

  1. Divide the students into teams and display To err is human board game on the screen if you are using Zoom. If you have smaller groups students can also play individually.
  2. To see who starts do rock, paper, scissors.  Whoever wins chooses the square they want to start with. Next the player(s) identifies and corrects the mistake in the square they have chosen. There is only ONE mistake in each sentence e.g an incorrect preposition, article or a verb form etc. If the player(s) manages to do it correctly, they add either an O or an X to the board. The first player to line up 6 of their symbols in a row wins. Since I have been using Zoom I have actually inserted predefined icons ( a star and a heart) when I played with my students as it looked cleaner and much cuter on the screen than an O or an X . You can find the stamps in the annotation tools when you start screen sharing.
  3. Monitor at all times and go through some of the most problematic sentences together at the end of the class. At home 😉 ask students to correct the sentences in all the squares without an icon.

P.S. Thank you for your feedback Mr. Potato. As always taken on board.

P.S. Have a look at one of my activities that has been published on onestopenglish this month ;). 

http://www.onestopenglish.com/community/lesson-share/pdf-content/lesson-share-my-bucket-list-worksheet/558308.article

http://www.onestopenglish.com/community/lesson-share/pdf-content/lesson-share-my-bucket-list-teachers-notes/558307.article

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Sometimes too much ain’t enough

Introduction:

This is a board game to practise too and enough. I have noticed that a lot of my students often mix them up so I prepared a short activity for them to practise both. Students get sentences that they have to react to and the person with the most polite, ingenious, creative sentence wins. If the students are not feeling very creative you can just settle for ( never a good idea, why not push them and demand more) correct responses but I would encourage students to stretch their imaginations a little and come up with some exciting ideas.

Level: A2+

Objectives:

  1. To create sentences with TOO or ENOUGH in response to sentences provided on the board.

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

  1. Sometimes too much ain’t enough board game

Procedure:

  1. Give students a copy of Sometimes too much ain’t enough board game or display it on the screen if you are using Zoom or any other platform. If you are not currently using Zoom just follow the instructions of my other board games.
  2. The teacher throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column the students should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question. 
  3. The player now gets a sentence they must respond to using either TOO or ENOUGH. The idea though is for the players to be as polite as possible or as original as possible and of course correct. If their sentence is correct they receive one point, e.g. if they land on the first square I am not going to eat this soup, the possible answers could be: There are not enough flies in it, the starter was too filling and I couldn’t possibly eat more, the soup is not salty enough, too salty etc. etc.  The sky is the limit.
  4. The player with the highest number of points wins. Since the game could actually go on indefinitely, with students giving different responses to the same sentences, you can decide when to end the game.
  5. At the end, ask students to write down 3 ideas their classmates came up with that made them laugh, surprised them or provoked any other intense positive or negative reactions.

 

Can you see the error of your ways? Sequel

Introduction:

This is an activity for lower intermediate students to review some of the most common mistakes they make. The students correct the mistakes individually, write sentences that are true for them and interview their partners. The mistakes in the exercise are genuine  mistakes made by my own students during Continuously present and How well do you know your folks? activities.

Level: A2

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To identify and correct common mistakes made by lower intermediate students.
  2. To practice changing statements into questions.
  3. To develop fluency and confidence in speaking.

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF file):

  1. Can you see the error of your ways sequel worksheet, one per student, per pair or a small team.

Procedure:

  1. On the left hand side of the board, write I have 2 childrens and in pairs, or groups of three, ask students to highlight the error and correct it.
  2. When they have finished, ask them what the error was and underline it on the board. To the right of the sentence, ask them to write their correct sentences on the board. Go through them together as a class and ask which statement is true for them e.g. I don’t have any children, I have one child, I have two children etc.
  3. Then, in their pairs or individually, ask the students to change the statement from the second column into a question, e.g. Do you have any children? How many children do you have? Write on the board to the right of the correct sentences.
  4. Clarify understanding and explain any incorrect suggestions.
  5. Give each student Can you see the error of your ways sequel… or display it on the screen if you are using Zoom and individually ask students to circle the mistakes in sentences 1 to 10.
  6. When they have finished, check together as a class.
  7. Individually, students then write correct sentences in the second column, making each statement true for them, as per the example ( if you are using Zoom ask students to make notes on a piece of paper and when they are finished copy the examples on the board).
  8. Check together as a class.
  9. Individually, ask the students to change the statements from the first column into questions and write them down in the third column, as per the example.
  10. Monitor closely. When they have finished, they check the answers with a partner.
  11. Explain any mistakes on the board.
  12. Then, put students into pairs, or groups of three, and ask them to interview each other using the questions.
  13. If students need more practice, ask them to switch pairs / groups and repeat the process.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to write down 4 things they have learned about their classmates.

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How well do you know your folks?

IMG_20200323_184632

Introduction: 

This is a board game for A2+ students to review present simple and see how much they really know about their parents. You could send the game to the students beforehand to give them a chance to gather some information about their parents before the class. Students answer questions about BOTH parents and move around the board based on the grammatically correct answers they give.

 

Level: A2+

Time: 45 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To review present simple affirmative and negative forms.
  2. To answer questions about students parents.
  3. To beat other players, of course, by reaching the end of the game first.

Materials (Click on the worksheet below to download the PDF files):

  1. How well do you know your folks board game

Procedure:

  1. How well do you know your folks? is played by 2 to 4 players.
  2. Give students a copy of How well do you know your folks board game or display it on the screen if you are using Zoom.
  3. To see who starts do rock, paper, scissors.  If you have more than three players do rock, paper, scissors until there is only one person left. Whoever wins answers the first question first: Do they often arrive home late? Example answer: My mother never arrives home late. She arrives home at the same time every day. My father arrives home at different times, sometimes at 6 and sometimes at 8. All the players must answer the question from that square but DO NOT correct any sentences until all the players have finished. The players get one point for each correct sentence (one about the mother, one about the father). If the player receives two points they move 2 spaces, if they receive 1 point they move one space only, but if they have made mistakes in two sentences they stay on the same square and answer the same question in the next round. Encourage learners to give you a slightly different answer to the same question to avoid mindless repetition e.g. She arrives home  just after lunch, whereas my father doesn’t arrive until 8. The only requirement is for the learner to use the verbs in affirmative and negative sentences correctly. Of course take this opportunity to correct other mistakes too and “feed” students new vocabulary. When I did this activity with my students, I introduced some compare & contrast linking expressions e.g. as well as, too, also; but, however, while. You could give students an extra point for using one of the linking expressions correctly e.g. My mother arrives home after lunch , but my father doesn’t arrive home until 8.
  4. The winner is the player who reaches “End” first.
  5. At the end, ask the students to choose three questions and elaborate on them in writing.

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So, what brings you here?

Also have a look at one of my activities that has recently been published on onestopenglish 😉

http://www.onestopenglish.com/community/lesson-share/pdf-content/lesson-share-my-bucket-list-worksheet/558308.article

http://www.onestopenglish.com/community/lesson-share/pdf-content/lesson-share-my-bucket-list-teachers-notes/558307.article

P.S. This post is dedicated to my mother Bogumiła and my father Robert. Kocham Was.