Games 1. Anything can be a game. Improvise. 2. Games should involve as many of the students as possible. 3.

Games should serve a purpose. Warm-up Games: Ball

Renato Ganoza for EF Zhengzhou, 2009

Carry a soft ball into the classroom. Ask a student a question and throw the ball to them after they’ve answered. She can then ask you a question and toss you the ball. It’s a simple way to visualize the back-and-forth of conversations. Balls are useful as a discipline method and drill also: students who throw the ball at you or refuse to return it won’t play anymore. Students who mumble or mispronounce words may not receive the ball either. Five “Whys” This is good for teenagers. Explain that you’re going to ask them simple questions. “How are you?” “How old are you?” “What’s your name?” When a student answers ask a second question: “Why?” “How old are you?” “Eleven.” “Why?” Students will laugh. Intelligent students will adapt. Increase the difficulty. “Do you have a girlfriend?” “Are you married?” “Do you have any children?” Drill Games: The purpose of a drill game is to mask drills – mindless repetition of target language – in fun activities. Successful drill games make students want to talk and repeat the target sentence patterns or vocabulary hundreds of times. Chopsticks Bundle chopsticks (at least five for each student present) into a coat or bag. Carry this into the classroom. Dramatically unveil the chopsticks to students. Explain that students who sit quietly will be awarded chopsticks. Award chopsticks one at a time until students have 5. Once students have five chopsticks each approach one student and ask him your target question. If the student answers correctly, have him ask you the target question. Answer and challenge him to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. If you win the student must give you one chopstick. If you lose you must give the student one chopstick. Move on to the next student. Repeat this with each student. Once students fully comprehend the activity allow them to play with each other – observe them carefully to ensure they speak first and play Rock, Paper, Scissors later. Encourage the students to amass as many chopsticks as possible. One possible variation is to offer prizes: the student who amasses ten chopsticks can trade it in for a pencil or eraser.

Games Page 2 of 3 Whispers / Telephone Choose a student at one end of the classroom to come to you. Whisper a recently studied sentence into his or her ear, i.e. “Bananas are yellow” or “The monkey is hungry.” The student turns to the next student and whispers it into their ear. The students continue passing the sentence along until it reaches the final student. He speaks it aloud. Is it still the same? This is a simple game that appeals mostly to younger students. I’ve found that it works very well in demo classes – the students like how it doesn’t single anyone out or put them on the spot. The parents love seeing their children participate and think it’s funny how they grab each other’s heads. Baseball Bring a long stick into class. Ask a student a question and throw them the ball once they’ve answered. Get into a batting stance. Once every student has pitched the ball to you allow the students to have a turn. Bowling Place three flash cards on the floor on the opposite end of the room from the students. Stand near the students and model a sentence using one of the cards. “I like eating elephants.” Roll a ball towards the “elephant” card as if you were bowling. If you hit it appear triumphant. If you miss look distraught. Do this once or twice until students fully comprehend the activity. Choose well-behaved students to have a turn “bowling.” Make sure they speak the sentence correctly before bowling! Review Games: Shark This is a board game. Have the students sit quietly. Draw faces on the board. Under each board – as students sit quietly – add little rungs to a ladder. Under the ladder draw an enormous ferocious shark. Explain that the shark is hungry. Ask students questions. Students who answer correctly breathe a sigh of relief. Students who answer incorrectly fall a rung down the ladder into the shark’s mouth. This is terrifying to young children. You may periodically award extra rungs to children with good behavior. Simon Says I prefer “Please…” to “Simon says…” “Please touch your nose.” “Please touch your knees.” My students sound quite polite playing this game. This is a classic TPR (total physical response) activity for young learners.

Renato Ganoza for EF Zhengzhou, 2009

Games Page 3 of 3 One-Sentence Stories Choose one very confident student to humiliate. Write a sentence on the board: “Gary woke up in Africa with no pants.” Inform the students that they are to add one sentence each to the story, thus deciding Gary’s fate. This works best for teenagers. Expect Gary to be thrown into toilets and out windows before the story is complete. To review a specific language focus – the past tense – ensure all students accurately conjugate their humiliating sentences. “Lisa woke up with a cat on her face.” Role Plays Two situations that have worked well in my classes: Have two students sit facing each other. Inform the class that they are having a romantic dinner. Have a third student stand beside their seats – he is their waiter and has brought them the wrong food. Inform them that the waiter doesn’t want to change the food – he would have to pay for it. The couple doesn’t want the strange food and won’t be persuaded to try it. You can add additional characters – a fourth student could be the restaurant manager and the fifth a police officer. Another situation: seat two students beside each other away from the other students. These two students are customs officers in an airport. The other students are hopeful entrants into Canada. Have the customs officers find excuses to deny the travelers entry. Role plays are flexible. You can assign characters to students or set a scene and allow students to choose their own roles. “Filler” games: Big Stick This is quite dramatic. Carry a big stick into class. Say nothing. Point the stick at one student and motion him or her to come forward and grab the other end. Tug the stick. Play tug of war. Defeat one student and ask another to help. Defeat two students. Repeat. Continue adding students until your authority is beyond a doubt. Students will be tired but pleased and ready to continue the class. Note: These games may not be the most educational, but at their best they serve a very noble purpose: changing the mood or course of the class. Sometimes your students are sad. Bored. Traumatized. Overly energetic. The correct fun filler game or activity can focus the class and ready them to accept more instruction.

Renato Ganoza for EF Zhengzhou, 2009

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