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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Level: Intermediate and Advance.

Skills: speaking.

Topic: vocabulary.

Materials: prompt cards with words written on them.

Time: 10 to 30 minutes (sometimes longer).

This is one of my favourite TEFL games, because besides being fun, it helps reinforce and teach vocabulary. It is definitely a hoot!

First, prepare a list of words you want students to use. Normally, I use the words they have learnt in previous levels (Elementary words for Intermediate, Intermediate words for Advanced). Examples include: sun, teacher, elephant, today, yes, bicycle, swim, banana, skin, comedy, sofa, island, coffee and shoulder. In fact, any word can be used in this game!

Divide the class into two teams. Then, using paper, rock, scissors or selecting randomly, one member of the first team to the front of the class. He/she has to try to describe/define to the class the word at the top of the card, without using any of the five forbidden words (that's the origin of the name of this game, the "taboo" words) listed on the card. Should the student say one of the words listed, you stop him/her and give the point to the opposite team. The describer may only use speech to describe to the class; gestures, sounds (e.g. barking), drawings or spelling (or translation!) are not allowed. While the describer is talking, the class may make as many guesses as they want with no penalties for wrong guesses.

Example, for the word sun the forbidden words would be hot, day, sky, star, and moon. Student describes it as "it's something that is in space, and around which our planet revolves". So far so good. But if the student adds: "... only visible during the day...", you should stop him/her, allowing a point to the other group.

Allow a minute or two for the first student, and then bring a student from the second team to the front.  Every time a team guesses correctly, they get the correspondent card. Continue until you run out of cards. The group with most cards wins.

Extension: get the teams to make their own cards for a second round of the game, using recently learned words.

Variation, with no material involved: select a student and ask him to come up to the board. Turn the student so that his/her back is facing the board. Write the keyword on the board. Underneath the keyword, write three other words which are also "taboo". This means that the students cannot say these three sub keywords either and they cannot make any actions to help the student with his/her back to the board.

When you say "start!", the first team will get two minutes to help the student guess the keyword. If any of the students say any of the Taboo words, his/her team cannot win a point. But if the student with his back turned to the board says the keyword, his/her team will get one point. After the team gets the point or time runs out, the teams will switch positions. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think about it?