This is a guest post by: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online programs and degree programs. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
It can be tough to relate to students when you have different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, but games are always a good way to break the ice and teach something at the same time. If you can get your students engaged in learning English while communicating to them that you’re interested in learning more about them as well, you’ll enjoy greater success and improve your rapport. The following are some fun games for any level that can help you learn more about each other and English.
Make a list of the week’s vocabulary words, then have students line up along one wall of your classroom. Explain that you’re going to play a spelling game: starting at one end of the line, each student will say one letter of the word until it’s spelled correctly. For example, if you’re trying to spell “apple,” the first student will say “a,” the next will say “p,” and so on. Anyone who says the wrong letter sits down, and the last student standing wins. Once you’re down to a small number of players, students will be taking more than one turn in order to spell an entire word, so elimination will go faster. You can offer a small prize to the winner, such as a sticker or a new pencil.
Write your week’s vocabulary words on some index cards, then have students come up to the front of the room one by one. Show each student one of your “secret” cards and have him or her draw a picture on your blackboard that represents the vocabulary word on the card. You can decide whether or not to set a time limit or award points, but some students respond better to competitive games. For example, if the class can guess the word within 30 seconds, the student who drew the picture gets a point. You can have a “store” once a week where students use their points to “buy” small prizes if you want to make the game more motivational.
In this game, you and your students review vocabulary words and have a great time making up a crazy story. Before you start, write down the week’s vocabulary words on index cards. Have everyone sit in a circle, then give each student a “secret” card that no one else can see. Start telling a story, and once you have something funny going, choose a student to continue your story with a sentence that uses his or her vocabulary word. Next, have the student choose a classmate to continue the story. After the last student ends the story, have everyone try to list all the vocabulary words in the story. Whoever can write down the most vocabulary words wins a prize.
Catch You Letter
You’ll need a small bean bag or soft ball for this game. Gather your students into a circle, say a word that starts with “a,” then throw the bean bag or ball to a student who has to immediately say a word beginning with “b.” There are lots of ways to vary this game:
• For beginners, write the alphabet on the board as a reference point.
• Time your game and see how long it takes to get from A to Z, then try to go faster.
• Tell more advanced students that their words have to relate to a certain topic (like food, movies, going to school, or doing chores at home). You can skip problem letters like X and Z.
Meet the Relatives
This game will require students to recall short words that they know in order to keep playing and can help with vocabulary retention. You’ll need a list of (innocent) four-letter words that you can use to start the game. For example, choose “RAIN” and write it up on the board. Have the first student go up to the board and write another four-letter word underneath “RAIN” that has only one different letter (for example, “GAIN”). The next student then does the same, but can’t change the same letter (“PAIN” would be wrong in this case, but “GAIT” would work). Now, the next student can change any letter but the last one (the first letter is fair game again). Keep going until your students can’t come up with any more words. If you like, you can award a point to each student for every word they write on the board and have the points count toward a prize later in the week.
Photo: Public Domain