Tried and tested (and approved!) games and activities to help English learning.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Word Tennis

Level: All levels.

Skills: listening and speaking.

Topic: vocabulary. 

Materials: none.

Time: 5 to 10 minutes.

This English teaching game is an ideal warmer when teaching English to kids, especially 6 to 8 year olds, but it can be used for any age group, and is an excellent way to review vocabulary. It also teaches category names to the students. Another good thing about it is that it requires no material whatsoever, so you can use it at any moment (as a filler, for instance) during your classroom.

Divide the class into two teams. Write the team names on either side of the board at the top. Leave a space in the middle of the board to write a list of categories. Write the first category (for example, animals). Have the students read this to you. If they can't do it yet, read it to them (repeated exposure to the category names will help them recognize them).

Point quickly to the first student. The student must respond with an animal name within a few seconds. Then the 'ball' bounces to the other team, and the first student quickly gives the name of another animal. Then the second student on the other team answers, and so forth.

This game must be done quickly, and without any repetition of vocabulary. When a student cannot answer, a point is given to the opposing team, and a new category is written on the board. The whole process is then repeated. Ideally, this game should be a fast review of vocabulary items.

The very first time you do this activity the students may well need help. However, once they are familiar with it, then it should become faster. Any categories can be used, from vegetables to verbs, and from city facilities to parts of the body. This game can also be used to teach/practice more advanced vocabulary categories (for example things that melt, personality types, phrasal verbs).

I tried and tested this game with Elementary (irregular verbs in the past, nationalities, parts of a city), Intermediate (irregular past participle verbs, clothes, animals) and Advanced (personality types, transport vocabulary, cinema words) students and it worked very well. Students loved it!

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