Yay or Nay

Introduction:

This is a fun debating board game that can be adapted to both bigger and smaller classes. Students practise the language used in debates and get a chance to discuss and explore a variety of interesting topics.

Level: B2+

Time: Till the cows come home

Objectives:

  1. To revise and practise using agreeing and disagreeing expressions.
  2. To practise fluency by discussing a variety of topics.

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

  1. Yay or Nay board game, one per team or class

Procedure:

  1. Hand out Yay or Nay board game to each team or simply display it on the screen if you are using Zoom or any other online platform.
  2. Split the class into two small teams ( of course this will all depend on the size of your class). 
  3. The teacher throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the topic.
  4. Tell each team to think of arguments FOR and AGAINST the particular topic. Give the class about five minutes to brainstorm some ideas. Monitor and help if necessary. 
  5. Before you begin the actual debates, go through some agreeing and disagreeing expressions. I have written a few expressions in a box above the board game so they are easily accessible for both the students and the teacher.
  6. Next, tell one group they are FOR the topic and one group that they are AGAINST the topic unless you want students to freely discuss the topics which often works better. I found that when I tell my students that they are for or against a certain statement, they often run out of steam quite quickly and feel they can no longer participate and contribute. You know your students best so decide on the course of action based on what encourages them and makes them come alive.
  7. Discuss the topic for as long as you see fit or as long as the students find it interesting and keep coming up with new arguments. Avoid setting a timer and interrupting your students if they are engaged, since it could potentially lead to loss of interest and motivation. It is not always about achieving objectives and getting to the end of an activity as fast as possible but actually enjoying the process and having fun.
  8. Monitor and take advantage of this speaking activity to feed students some new expressions. 

Related posts:

BIG3

Triple Treat

Triple treat makes a comeback

Soap Opera

Lollypop debate

 

Before and after

Introduction:

This is a Before and After board game to practise/revise past perfect and past simple in an entertaining way. Students create sentences in the past perfect and past simple tense depending on the sentence they start with. The idea is to create a character and relate the sentences to each other which can later be used as a foundation for a short writing task.

Level: B2+

Time: 50 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To revise the past perfect and past simple tense.
  2. To come up with sentences related to each other which can be used as an inspiration for a writing task.

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

  1. Before and after board game, one per team.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out Before and after 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 sentence. 
  3. If a player lands on a square with a sentence in the past simple tense they have to try and predict what happened BEFORE e.g. After he had managed to finally save some money, he bought a new car.  If they land on a square with a sentence in the past perfect tense, they predict what happened AFTER e.g. He had set up a successful company by the time he was 20. Since the students are working together or in small groups they discuss their ideas first, make their predictions and later write down their examples. Before the activity tell students that all these sentences are about one character and they should try and connect the sentences. This way it is more engaging and the students get more invested in the task. 
  4. Monitor at all times and go through some of the most problematic sentences together. At home ask students to write a short story about the character they have created in class, using some of the sentences they came up with.

Related posts:

Simply perfect

A trip down memory lane

Summary of past or recent events

Double Decker

Best birthday ever

Ir(regular) Xmas

BIG3

Introduction:

These are three board game activities to talk about culture, the unexplained phenomena and sports. They can be used together or separately, and are a great way to help students practise speaking and develop fluency, as well as prepare FCE /CAE speaking exams.

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 throughout the activity and obviously draw their attention to any mistakes they might be making.  You could always prepare a thematic vocabulary list and send it to the students before the class or even ask them to research the topic themselves and then teach others some new words they have learnt.

As always encourage students to ask each other 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: B2+

Objectives:

  1. To practise speaking about culture, the unexplained phenomena and sports.

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

  1. Culture Schmulture board game
  2. One, two, three, BUNGEE! board game
  3. The unexplained board game
  4. 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.
  2. The teacher throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  3. The player must then answer the question and provide their classmates with as much detail as possible. Encourage students to ask additional questions and ask for clarification and further explanation. As I said in the introduction, do not let it be a monologue but a starting point for a great conversation.  Last week, in a 90 minute session my students answered only 2 questions, as they got so involved in the topic I didn’t dare interrupt their flow. I simply provided necessary vocabulary and correction and of course enjoyed listening to their ideas and opinions.
  4. At the end, ask students to give you three new things they have learnt about their classmates.

Related posts:

Triple Treat

Triple treat makes a comeback

Keep calm and wash your hands ;)

Introduction:

This is a fun activity to review the most common collocations with break, come, keep and pay. Students divide the expressions into four groups and then play a board game where, if they manage to complete a sentence with the right verb correctly, they add either an O or an X to the board until they line up 6 symbols in a row. I currently use the stamps available in Zoom, stars and hearts, which actually makes the board look very pretty and if a student makes a mistake I stamp the square/ field with a cross ( I put the stamps in the bottom right hand corner).

Level: B2

Time: 45-60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To practise and review common collocations with break, come, keep and pay.
  2. To divide expressions into four categories: ones that collocate with break, come, keep and pay.
  3. To complete a sentence with the correct verb: break, come, keep or pay and line up 6 symbols (O or X) in a row.
  4. To answer a question containing the target language.

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

  1. Keep calm and wash your hands Worksheet
  2. Keep calm and wash your hands Board game

Procedure:

  1. Elicit some common collocations with break, come, keep and pay and write them on the board e.g. break a leg, come to an agreement, keep a secret or pay the price.
  2. Put students in small groups of 2 or 3 and give each group Keep calm and wash your hands Worksheet.
  3. To make the activity more competitive, tell students that the first group to complete the task correctly wins or you could give them a point for each correct answer. Much better.
  4. Monitor and check answers as a class. As an alternative you could do the exercise together with the class, depending on the level of your students. I went through all the phrases with my students making sure they were clear on what each expression meant.
  5. Divide the students into teams ( if you have a small group or just one student they can of course play individually) and hand out Keep calm and wash your hands board game  to each team or simply display it on the screen if you are using Zoom.
  6. To see who starts do rock, paper, scissors.  Whoever wins chooses the square they want to start with. Next the player(s) completes the sentence with the missing verb (break, come, keep or pay). I have put smiley faces where the verbs should be to make the board look nice and chirpy. If the player(s) manage 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. Also as the students complete the sentences make sure they use the right form of the verb (they could get additional points for that) and of course answer the question. Encourage them to use the collocation in their answer and avoid a simple yes or a no.
  7. At home ask students to choose five questions from the board ( preferably with the expressions that were brand new to them) and answer them in writing.

Related posts:

Make or do? Have no clue 😦

Go Get ‘em tiger!

Do, make, have or take? An instant headache

P.S. A massive thank you to my friend Stu, a genius creator of my new templates. I love them and I love you too potato head.

 

 

Zooming it

Introduction:

This is a board game to get to know your classmates better, disconnect and have some fun. Students ask and answer some interesting questions and if they happen to land on a green field they can either answer a question or perform a dare.

I have given you some dare ideas but please feel free to come up with your own or change them to make them appropriate for your groups or even ask the students to invent some dares, although that could potentially turn ugly very quickly :). I have deliberately chosen the questions that hopefully only evoke positive 🙂emotions from learners to make them feel good throughout the activity and take their minds off things. If you are using Zoom ( which I am guessing you probably are) just display the board on the screen for everyone to see or send it to your students before the class. Also when I use my games on Zoom these days I am the one in charge of the dice:) Hope you enjoy the activity.

Level: B1+

Objectives:

  1. To ask and answer interesting questions and perform challenging dares to inject some fun into our Zoom lessons

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

  1. Zooming it board game
  2. 20 dare ideas

Procedure:

  1. Give students a copy of Zooming it 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 as the idea is pretty much the same although I have added a few twists this time.
  2. The teacher throws the dice twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question. You could indicate who starts and then players continue clockwise or anticlockwise.
  3. If a player lands on a green field they can choose either to answer a question or perform a dare. I have given you some ideas but feel free to make changes. If a player lands on an orange field they answer the question themselves and if they land on a blue one they nominate someone to answer it.
  4. At the end, ask the students to give you three new things they have learnt about their classmates and three funniest dares they have seen their classmates perform during the lesson.

Related posts:

So, what brings you here?

Go Get ‘em tiger!

Know thyself

Triple treat makes a comeback

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

 

 

And the Oscar goes to…(Joaquin Phoenix pretty please)

Introduction:

This is a free board game to talk about films ( what a coincidence right?). Students can choose ONE of the Oscar winning films (e.g. Forrest Gump, A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator, Chicago, The Godfather  and whoever wins this year) and discuss it or refer to a different film each time they land on a question, but I guess it would be more interesting to stick to one film ONLY and discuss it in DEPTH. You could ask students which films they’ve seen before the activity and encourage them to  watch at least one of the films you are going to discuss in class.

Level: B1+

Objectives:

  1. To talk about films because the Oscars start in about 5 hours, so I guess that is a good enough reason.

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

  1. And the Oscar goes to board game

Procedure:

  1. Ask the students if they have seen any of the Academy Award nominated films this year and if so ask them to briefly tell you which films they have liked best.
  2. Put the students in pairs or groups and give them a copy of And the Oscar goes to…and a die and ask them to first decide which film they are going to discuss.
  3. Players take it in turns to throw the die twice – the first throw indicates which column they should use, and the second throw indicates which row, to obtain the question.
  4. The players now answer the questions in pairs or small groups and in as much detail as possible.
  5. At the end, ask the students to write a short review of their favourite film.

Related posts:

Bookworms & Film Buffs

Lights, camera, action! Speaking activity

Lights, camera, action! Wordsearch

Also please check out all my other board games. There are over 30 of them on the blog.

All talk and no cider

Introduction: 

These are activities for upper intermediate students to introduce and practise idioms related to communication. Students unscramble the expressions, match them with the correct definitions and answer some questions in pairs.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce communication idioms and expressions.
  2. To unscramble communication idioms and expressions.
  3. To match the expressions with their definitions.
  4. To practise the new expressions whilst interviewing their partners.

Materials:

  1. All talk and no cider, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Put students in pairs and ask them to briefly discuss the following questions: What makes it easy to talk to someone? Who is the best conversationalist you have ever met? What percentage of a conversation do you spend talking? What do people do that drives you crazy in a conversation? How can you improve your conversation skills?
  2. Hand students All talk and no cider Worksheet. In pairs, students try to order the idioms to discover what the correct expressions are (bring order to chaos). Bear in mind that they will not know the majority of the expressions, but resist the urge to give them the answers. My students usually work relentlessly to try and come up with the right answers until eventually they get the majority of them right.
  3. Check the answers as a class.
  4. Now the students, in pairs again, match the expressions with their definitions. Again students work in pairs to encourage cooperation and show them how much they can learn from each other and that the teacher is NOT the only source of knowledge in the classroom. I don’t want my students to ever become too dependent on me. I value autonomy greatly and try to help them develop tools to be as independent as possible.
  5. Check the answers as a class. I always ask EVERYONE to compare FIRST rather than list the right answers. There is usually someone in the classroom who is able to peer correct. It makes students so much more confident when you show them they can do it without your help but you are always present to provide the support and guidance if they are at a loss.
  6. When the students have finished, ask them to look at the questions in Exercise 2 and first try and write down the idioms that match the definitions in bold. I encourage them to do it from memory first as it’s a great way to start recycling vocabulary and make them think and engage. I often turn these exercises into mini competitions to add some excitement. Last time I did this exercise the students thought I was insane and asked for the impossible, but as soon as they started, they saw that they remembered more than the thought and the majority managed to complete the task PERFECTLY and almost entirely from memory.
  7. Students now answer the questions in pairs or small groups using the communication idioms as often as possible.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to choose expressions that best describe them and in writing justify their answers.

Related posts:

You talkin’ to me?

Clothes do (not) make the man

Ups and downs

Stop beating around the bush

Nothing changes if nothing changes

P.S. This post pays homage to cider, cabrales, rich homemade almond turrón and of course Kompacho.

Taking the leap…

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise idioms related to success and failure. Students first answer some questions in pairs or small groups, divide the expressions into two categories, complete the questions in Exercise 3 with the missing idioms, and then answer the questions in pairs or small groups.

I would start this class with a story, something you initially struggled with and that you managed to turn into a great success. To create interest, first introduce the problem and then ask students to predict in pairs how you managed to overcome it. This way you will give students an opportunity to see you in a different light, someone more approachable and able to share your challenges and difficulties. 

My personal favourite for this type of class and the type of topic is the story of when I went to a bilingual secondary school at the age of 15 with no English to speak of. ZERO. I was in the bottom of my class. I worked my socks off for two years to get to the level of the other students. When I finally did, the momentum, my sheer determination and drive, together with my passion for English was already so strong that I became of one the best students in my class, graduated from an English university and years later became an English teacher, who the English themselves confuse with a native speaker from Ireland Impossible is nothing.

Side note: This post feels special to me and the time of its publication is not an accident. After working in a language school in the north of Madrid for a decade, yes a decade, I have decided to take the leap and go freelance. I am feeling a mixture of excitement, fear, and uncertainty but underpinning all this there is an unshakable belief that I have made the right decision. I loved working in the same school for such a long time, it gave me an amazing opportunity to work with wonderful students for years and years and a chance to get to know them really well. However, the time has come to leave my comfort zone and to take on a new challenge.

P.S. I have also made a Taking the leap conversation board game that I used with one of my students who recently created her own company. Well done! Feel free to download it and use it if it is appropriate for your students. 

P.S. I don’t really believe in failure myself. You either win or you learn. Here comes a book that inspired me in many ways.

John Maxwell “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”.

Level: B2

Time: 50 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To introduce idioms related to success and failure.
  2. To answer questions about success and failure.
  3. To divide the idioms into two categories: one associated with success and one with failure.
  4. To complete questions with the missing idioms and then answer the questions in small groups or pairs.

Materials:

  1. Taking the leap Worksheet, one per student.
  2. Taking the leap board game board game, one per student/ small group.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out a copy of Taking the leap Worksheet and ask students to discuss the questions in Exercise 1. Elicit some answers when they are finished.
  2. Ask the students to divide the expressions into two categories: success and failure. The students could first work individually and then compare with their partners, but once they get into groups or pairs they must agree on the answers. It encourages discussions and forces students to engage and defend their answers rather than mindlessly/distractedly do the task before moving on to the next one. 
  3. Check together as a class and ask students to try and come up with precise definitions of each expression. Help with the ones students were unable to figure out themselves. 
  4. When the students have finished, ask them to complete the questions in Exercise 2 with the missing idioms. I usually ask students to fold the paper in half at this stage to try and encourage them to do it from memory which makes the task more challenging.
  5. When they have finished, ask them to go back to Exercise 1 and self / peer correct before you check as a class.
  6. Next, students answer the questions in pairs or small groups and give examples.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to think of some inspiring stories they have read or heard about and write a short summary, using the expressions learnt, of how the character in their story overcame the challenges they faced.

Related posts:

The proof is in the pudding

It’s all a numbers game

Nothing changes if nothing changes

It’s game time

Somewhere over the rainbow 

You make my heart BEET 😉

There is no place like…school

Can’t stop dishing out idioms

Actions speak louder than words

Ups and downs

All rise please

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Half full or half empty?

P.S. Thank you Alex, Stu, Nat, Adam, Penny, Lorna and Kompacho for your support and encouragement.

 

 

What a zoo

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise animal idioms. Students first answer a few questions, complete the idioms with the missing animals, match them to their definitions and answer some questions using the target language. Although the activity is quite hard I have done it with many different levels and by encouraging, providing the right scaffolding and guiding my students I managed to keep them going despite the difficulty.

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of animal idioms.
  2. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  3. To answer questions containing the target language in pairs.

Materials:

  1. What a zoo Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Hand out each student a copy of What a zoo Worksheet.
  2. Tell students to, in pairs, answer questions in Exercise 1.
  3. Next ask students to complete the idioms with the missing animals. Bear 🙂 in mind that they will not know the majority of the expressions, but resist the urge to give them the answers. In one group I had all the students working relentlessly to try and come up with the right answers by applying logic, giving examples in their mother tongue (Spanish) until eventually they got ALL the answers right. It was an absolute pleasure to watch them and guide them. I have to add that I have an unshakeable belief in my students’ abilities and they can clearly sense it and as a result often are happy to deal with tasks that, initially, seem far too hard for them. With time however the VAST majority accepts the responsibility for their own learning in my classroom and they try and work things out for themselves.
  4. Check together as a class. Again here I always ask EVERYONE to compare FIRST rather than list the right answers. At this stage people often have some mistakes and if they do, there is usually someone in the classroom who is able to peer correct. It makes students so much more confident when you show them they can do it without your help but you are always present to provide the support and guidance if they are at a loss.
  5. Ask the students to match the idioms to their definitions. Again students work in pairs to encourage cooperation and show them how much they can learn from each other and that the teacher is NOT the only source of knowledge in the classroom. I don’t want my students to ever become too dependent on me. I value autonomy greatly and try to help them develop tools to be as independent of me as possible.
  6. Check together as a class.
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to look at the questions in Exercise 3 and first try and write down the animal idioms that match the definitions in bold. I encourage them to do it from memory first as it’s a great way to start recycling vocabulary and make them think and engage. I often turn these exercises into mini competitions to add some excitement.
  8. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner. Again comparing never means mindlessly looking through each other’s answers but justifying your choices which is always a great extra speaking activity and an opportunity to use the idioms again and again.
  9. Students now answer the questions in pairs or small groups using the animal idioms as often as possible.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to draw four expressions they have learnt in class in their notebooks.

Related posts:

Cat got your tongue? Speak up

MEOW!

All hands on deck, kids

Can’t stop dishing out idioms

Nothing changes if nothing changes

P.S. Happy Birthday Natalusia.

 

All hands on deck, kids

Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise transport idioms. Students complete the idioms with the missing words, match the idioms to their definitions, do a few vocabulary games and later interview their classmates.

Level: B2+

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To present students with transport idioms.
  2. To complete the idioms in Exercise 1 with the missing transport words.
  3. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  4. To answer questions containing the target vocabulary in pairs or small groups.

Materials:

  1. All hands on deck, kids Worksheet, one per student.

Procedure:

  1. Ask students to briefly discuss their favourite/ least favourite means of transport.
  2. Hand out a copy of All hands on deck, kids Worksheet and ask students to individually complete the idioms in Exercise 1 with the missing transport words. There are two extra words to make the activity slightly more challenging.
  3. When the students have finished, ask them to compare in small groups and then check together as a class.
  4. Next students match the idioms to their definitions on the right. When the students have finished, ask them to compare in small groups again and then check together as a class.
  5. Clarify meaning if necessary.
  6. Divide the students in small groups (2 or 3 students in each group).
  7. One student from each group draws one of the expressions on the board and the players from the other teams try to guess what the expression is. Each team only has two opportunities to guess. Ensure ALL the students have had an opportunity to draw an idiom (you might have to do 2 or 3 rounds depending on the number of students on each team). Each team receives 1 point for a correctly identified expression.
  8. Next, the students take it in turns to act out the expressions silently, with the players from other teams trying to guess the idiom.
  9. Then, the students describe the expressions using THREE WORDS only (thank you Alex) but must not use any of the words that are in the expressions.
  10. Finally, in their teams of two or three, ask the students to complete the idioms in Exercise 2. Tell them to fold the paper so they do the exercise from memory. I gave one point to the team who finished first and one point to the team who completed all the idioms correctly.
  11. When the students have finished, ask them to discuss the questions 1-12, Exercise 2 in pairs.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to write down as many expressions as they can remember without looking at the paper.

Related posts:

There is no place like…school

Actions speak louder than words

Ups and downs

All rise please

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Half full or half empty?