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Fun and Effective Language Learning Activities Packet_30 Activities

Fun and Effective Language Learning Activities Packet_30 Activities

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05/10/2014

 
It’s been approximately six years since I made the definitive decision to become a language teacher.During those six years I have often either been enrolled in language classes, or have been teachinglanguage classes, or both. Nevertheless, what you see here is a product of much more than languageinstruction. Since deciding to teach language, all of my teachers, notwithstanding their fields of specialization, have taken on a dual role in my education. As a student, not only did I strive to learn thematerial being presented, but I made a personal commitment to assimilate into my own teaching practicesthe effective
ways
that the material was presented. If a teacher utilized an activity that I liked, or a presentation that was effective, I stole it. This packet is partially a bi-product of over half a decade of highway robbery. The activities and games that you’ll find in this packet have been pick-pocketed fromsociology, science, English, and even Shakespeare professors. But teachers aren’t the only source of inspiration for a pedagogical thief. This packet also contains games and activities adapted from cereal boxes, neighborhood parties, church outings, summer camps, board games, and family reunions. Onoccasion I do give credit to game creators, some of which are even myself, but for the most part I’veconsidered everything you see here as “free-ware,” and I encourage all of you to look the other way anddo the same.This packet contains 30 fun and effective language learning games that have been tried and provensuccessful in my own Spanish language classroom. These activities have been categorized into thefollowing themes, listed in chronological order:
1 General Review Games :
These games often utilize a format that is consonant with the employment of vocabulary, grammar, morphology, syntax, communicative language use and cultural learning objectives.Many of these games have been adapted to be “low affective filter” games that allow under confidentstudents to participate and feel validated without interference from highly competitive students.
2 Communicative Language Use Games :
Although many of the games in the packet employ thiselement, these games specifically center on meaningful communicative interactions amongst students, andthe use of target language structures.
3 Vocabulary Games :
The activities in this category are quick and exciting games that teach studentsvocabulary and circumlocution skills. These activities are often communicative.
4 Grammar Games :
Grammatical concepts and structures are specifically focused on here, although theytoo have been treated in many of the other activities. Different modalities of communication that employspecific forms are stressed in this section’s games, and the widely untouched topic of syntax is evenincluded here.
 
Appendix : Here you will find some of the materials that you will need to begin immediatelyutilizing these activities in your own classroom.Curtis KleinmanYavapai College Spanish Instructor—Prescott, ArizonaPhone: 928-776-2290Email:curtis.kleinman@yc.eduIf you would like an electronic copy of this packet, please see my website:http://curtiskleinmanspanish.wetpaint.com/page/Fun+and+Effective+Language+Learning+Activitiesor http://tinyurl.com/spanishactivities.
This is a good game to use as a review for quizzes or tests. First make up short language tasks, equal to the number of students in your class (if your class has twenty five students come up with twenty five short relevant tasks).Tasks should be short enough to be accomplished in 30 to 45 seconds. Here’s an example of a language task I use:
Translate the following to Spanish:
They are from Toledo.
 
Some tasks may be as simple as supplying the correct vocabulary word, or reading a short sentence in the targetlanguage and answering a question about it. Then, print up each one of these language tasks on a piece of paper and apply to it a number (in this case, 1-30). Finally cut each numbered task out and tape them to the tops of thestudents’ desks, one task per desk. Students sit in a desk that has a language task on it, and number their paper fromone to thirty. Tell the students that when you say go, they will have 30 seconds (or 45) to complete the task that isaffixed to the desk in front of them. Turn music on to signal that their time with the first task has begun. Cut themusic signaling that their time has expired. Each student should write the answer on his or her answer sheet, andwhen the time comes to move on to the next task, students should stand and move with their answer sheet to thenext corresponding number on their paper. The number on their answer sheet should always correspond with thenext numbered desk that they are sitting at. You may want to include a few free desks where a task is not given toafford students a break or a chance to make sure that their numbering isn’t off.Short speaking tasks may be assigned as well by linking two tasks. Task 18 may say, “Ask the person behind youwhere he or she is from, in Spanish.” Task 19 would then read, “Wait for the person in front of you to ask you aquestion in Spanish and then respond in Spanish.”Cultural music can be played during this game. The teacher should lower the volume of the music to signify thatthe time allotted for that question has expired. Once the students have changed chairs the teacher should raise thevolume once again.This is a variation on Musical Chairs, and it can spice up any worksheet activity. The same idea applies as inMusical Chairs above, but this time, instead of students moving from desk to desk, it’s the questions that move.Just cut up the questions on any worksheet and hand them out, one question at a time to students so that everystudent in the class has one question in hand. Give each student thirty seconds to answer each question and thenhe/she must pass the question on to the person at his/her left, as well as receive a new questions from the student athis/her right. This is an excellent way to ensure that students are working in class and using the time you haveallotted for a worksheet’s completion to the fullest. It also saves on photocopies, since each student writes theanswer on an answer sheet, the teacher need not create one worksheet for each student, rather, the teacher createsone worksheet per class. Named after its inventor, this is a good competitive game for students that are not competitive or are unconfidentabout their abilities in the L2. It is a simple trivia game, where the teacher asks a question (this could come inmany forms, such as a verbal question in the target language that must be responded to on paper, or a sentence thatmust be translated from the board) that students respond to on paper. The trick is in the ingenious scoring.Students are divided into groups of four or five. One paper (or white board—which works extremely well if available) per group is placed on the desk of one single group member and the question is presented. If that groupmember answers the question correctly by her or himself the group gets two points. If he or she answers thequestion correctly with the help of the group he or she gets one point for the group and if the question is answeredincorrectly, either alone or with the help of the group, the group gains no points. Students should write the answersand then bring the answer up to the teacher who will then tally the team’s point total on a scoring sheet that theteacher keeps. If groups are taking too much time to turn in their answers, an extra point should be given towhichever group turns in their answer first, be that answer right or wrong. In this way, if a team member answersthe question correctly without help from his team, and he is the first to turn in his answer, he would then win threetotal points for his team. {I will use both masculine and feminine pronouns in free variation throughout this work}The teacher begins by drawing a football field on the board, similar to the figures below. 
Fig. 1—Football Field with ball on Pirate’s one-yard-line Fig. 2—Football Field with ball on Dragon’s 25-yard-line
 
The class is divided into two large teams, and the teacher flips a coin to decide which team goes first. The teamthat wins the coin toss, the Pirates, in this case, (the Pirates, in the case of Figure 1) will take possession of the ball,starting on their own one-yard-line (the teacher then draws a picture of a football on the one-yard-line on the board,[see Figure 1]). Each team will have one representative that will be asked to answer a question presented by theteacher (questions can be lexical, grammatical, or even cultural in nature and can be answered orally or written longhand, and can be answered in the target language or in the L1, all depending on the needs of the situation). Theteam’s representative changes with every question. If the team’s representative answers the question presentedcorrectly the team will advance the ball up the field (represented by the teacher erasing the picture of the ball at theone-yard-line and re-drawing it at the 25-yard-line). The team’s representative may receive help from histeammates when stuck on a question, but a correct response with teammate help will only retain possession of the ball, it will not advance the ball forward. Three non-advancements in a row will result in an automatic turnover.However, if the representative answers incorrectly, the play is deemed a turnover and the other team will gain possession of the ball and begin to advance the opposite way up the field. If a team scores a touch down they mustgo for the extra point by first answering a question and then by making a basket in the trashcan from a distancespecified by the teacher. The team can opt at any time to attempt a field goal. The distance of the field goal is indirect proportion to the difficulty of the question (the further the distance the tougher the question). Field goals aremade by first answering the question correctly and then by making a basket in the trash can (once again the distanceto the trashcan should be positively correlated with the difficulty of the question). This game is especially fun to play during football spirit weeks.The key to the success of this game is having plenty of questions that fit into four different difficulty categories.When the ball is at a team’s own one-yard-line (as is the case for the Pirates in Figure 1 above), and they areattempting to advance the ball forward, questions should be pulled from the easiest of the four difficulty categories(e.g. “Please translate this word from English to Spanish” etc.). However, if the team is on their opponent’s 25-yard-line and are attempting to score on the next play (as is the case for the Pirates in Figure 2 above), the questionshould be pulled from the most challenging difficulty category (e.g. Please translate the sentence, “It has beenattempted but never completed” etc.) On the other hand, if the team is on their own one yard line and want to gofor a field goal, instead of advance the ball forward, they should also be presented with a question from the mostchallenging difficulty category. Extra point questions should be pulled from the easiest difficulty category pile.http://www.quia.com/cb/219557.htmlJeopardy is a wonderful game for teaching interrogatives because all of the answers must be given in the form of aquestion. Obviously the game can be played utilizing any one of a myriad of themes. The link above shows a goodexample of an on-line jeopardy game, created with the use of the jeopardy creator program,
Quia
. This particular  jeopardy game is centered around food vocabulary and grammar, but jeopardy is also a wonderful medium for introducing cultural questions (e.g. “According to the video we saw, this is the most effective way to get around inBuenos Aires.” Answer: “What is the subway?”). This on-line version can be played with two teams and an LCD projector, but a poster board with categories written by hand is just as effective.This information gap game is especially effective because it is based so integrally in authentic real life experiencesthat are goal oriented. Groups of two students are given two different week long planner’s that contain their “schedules” for one week (I use a weekly scheduler print-out from Microsoft Outlook). The weekly planners telleach student what they are doing on a given day for a one week period. Each planner is complete with real lifeactivities (e.g. study sessions, work, class, sporting events, etc.). The students are then told that there is a play intown that they both want to go to see together, but they are both very busy. Luckily the play has showings everyday of the week both in the morning and afternoon. The student must find a day (or days) and time when they canattend the play together.I call this game “Dance Cards” from stories my mother used to tell me about high school dances. She said the week  prior to a dance she would walk around school with a dance card and young men would offer to sign her card,signifying that they had pledged to dance with her at the event. In this game students are also required to obtain thesignatures of their classmates. This is a good game to encourage students to interact with new groups. Firststudents write five questions down in the target language on an index card, leaving space for a response betweeneach question. Depending on the level of the students these questions can be made up, translated off the board from

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