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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Back Writing

Level: Elementary, Intermediate and Advance.

Skills: writing.

Topic: vocabulary.

Materials: a list of words you want the students to review.

Time: 10 to 20 minutes.

This activity is really engaging and fun. The tickling sensation provided by the tracing the message (word or sentence) on the back of the students gets them laughing and motivates them more acutely than simply asking them to remember previous vocabulary. Having students write on each other's back is a good way to stimulate the sense of touch (good for kinesthetic students!) in the lesson and further involves the student. This game is systematically used in my classes as a warmer, but you can bring it up anytime during your lesson.

First, divide the class into two groups and have both groups stand in team lines facing the board. Give the first person of each group a board marker. Teach the students that a tap on one's own shoulder means 'repeat' and a nod means 'OK, I understood'. Also, tell them that no verbal communication is allowed. If any member of each group is heard speaking or murmuring, the opposing group will be given a point.

Then, move to the end of the line, calling the last students of each group to see the message you have previously prepared (again, it can be a sentence or just a word). Next, students pass the message to the front of the line by tracing the message on the back of the person in front of them. Remind students of the two commands for repeating or accepting the message. When the message reaches the first person in line, they write it on the board. The group who finishes first and correctly earns a point. Draw student's attention to the importance of being fast and accurate at the same time. When the round is finished, have the first person go to the end of the line to change writers and show a second word. The game can end when every member of both groups had the chance to start writing on their partners' back or at any given time (depending on your choices; longer lines make the game harder but shorter lines allows for more opportunity to have everyone be the writer).

Variation for younger students: 
Have students sit in a circle for a smaller class or make team lines for a larger class. Choose a letter or word from current study and have children trace it in the air together. Next, have students trace the letter onto the back of the person in front of them. Observe the students and correct where necessary. Repeat using new letters. Use words or sentences for higher levels, as presented above. 

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