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

Friday, November 11, 2011

Extreme Situations

Level: Advanced.

Skills: writing and speaking.

Topic: vocabulary and grammar.

Materials: paper sheets (with some information on them), pen & pencil.

Time: 10 to 30 minutes.

The point of these games (yes, there are at least two variations of it!) is to make difficult questions involving choosing a course of action in extreme situations. Usually these situations will involve feelings, prejudices, ethics, etc. Aimed at advanced groups, there is much scope for role-play here. This activity is suitable for classes of mature students rather than young schoolchildren; and in order to work it has to be taken fairly seriously. No particular language preparation is needed, beyond a check that the information sheets are thoroughly understood. 

Variation 1: Sahara Desert Safari
Give one slip of paper with a job (psychologist, writer, farmer, nurse, massage therapist, priest, lawyer, police officer, singer, fortune teller [more jobs can be included if the class has more than ten students]) written on the top of it to each student, and ask them to write down a short description about him/herself, e.g. 
  • if female/male;
  • name; 
  • age; 
  • the length of time in the work field; 
  • some of his/her good and bad characteristics; 
  • good and bad habits. 
Give them 5 minutes to complete the task. Don't forget to check the students' understanding of what they have to do, and help and monitor as necessary. 

When students have finished writing, start the speaking part. Each student introduces his/her character in one minute. Then tell them they are in a Safari in Sahara Desert, in two Jeeps [or more, depending on the size of the class]. There is a problem with one of the Jeeps: it has broken down and cannot be fixed. Five people will have to remain where the Jeep is, while the other five will go back to the camp, trying to get some help. Ask the students: 'Why do you deserve to be on the Jeep that is going back to the camp?' Students have to be creative/logical/convincing in 2 minutes, telling the rest of the class their reasons. While they are speaking, write on the board the jobs and when the last student speak, they take turns to vote who doesn’t deserve to be on the Jeep.

Variation 2: Escape From The Island
Tell students they are on a deserted island. There is a motor boat and they are the only one who knows how to drive it. It is up to them to decide which people of the following people you are going to take with you in the boat. There is space for only them (individually) and 3 more people. Here they are:
  • a prostitute who gives 30% of her fees to help homeless children;
  • a drug addict who writes magnificent pop songs;
  • a dying old man who was a caring and lovely clown on a TV show;
  • a doctor convicted of malpractice who is a staunch father and husband;
  • a child pornographer who is a spiritual leader of a church that helps millions of people;
  • a convicted criminal who is the most talented sculpter of his generation;
  • a corrupt politician who has created a working system to help the poor and the needy.
(Note: You should adjust the list to suit the students in your class. Delete some if you find them offensive. Add others that you think would generate good discussion.)

In this variation, students have to be grouped in pairs, then in fours, then in eights, until the whole class agree on who are going to escape the island with them.

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