This is a very easy game to set up and a fun way for students to produce the target language while trying to make each other laugh. In this example we’re using so, such, too and enough with a B1+ class, but it is highly adaptable for other language structures.

A caption competition is where you are asked to write a funny title for a picture and the best, or funniest, caption wins. This adaptation works in exactly the same way, except that the caption must be written using the target language.

(Since I don’t own any of the images in the examples below please click on them to view the images that the students have written about.)

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Materials

Search google images for ‘caption competition’ and you’ll find a wealth of hilarious pictures to use with this game. Print small versions of the pictures (6 per A4 page) and make sure you have enough for one per student with a few extras. Number the pictures so they can be referred to later.

Cut up some small slips of paper with enough room on them for a sentence (there is always an abundance of scrap paper in my staffroom, it only has to be clear on one side). You’ll need a lot of these, up to 6 per student.

Instructions

At this point the students have practised using the target language so this is intended to be the production stage. I write the following on the board and students work in pairs to make sentences:

  • I’m so _________ that __________
  • I’m too _________ to ___________
  • I’m not __________ enough to ________
  • I’m such a/an _________ that  _________

Feedback is done as a whole class, correcting as we go.

I then hand out the pictures, one to each student, and ask them to discuss in pairs what’s happening in their photo. While they’re talking I hand out the slips of paper.

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I explain the concept of a caption competition and that they should try to think of funny sentences for their photo. They write them on the slips of paper, including the number on the photo. I adjust the prompts on the board:

  • ____ so _________ that __________
  • ____ too _________ to ___________
  • ____ not __________ enough to ________
  • ____ such a/an _________ that  _________

I help students correct mistakes as I walk around the room. When a student has finished writing a sentence they pass their picture to the left and take a new one from the right. You can add in extra photos if there are any delays building up due to particularly slow and thoughtful students.

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As you monitor, collect and keep the correct sentences in their numbered order. Once every student has written four to five sentences collect the pictures and end the activity.

Arrange the pictures around the class, putting the sentences next to each one. Students take their notebooks and walk around the room, writing down the sentences that they think are the funniest. Once they’ve finished they sit back down and compare the sentences they chose in pairs.

Follow up

You can ask the class to choose some winners, based on their selections. You could also turn the completed sentences into a collage for display.

You’ll also have a wealth of material for error correction that you can use in the next lesson.

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Further adaptations and summary

If this sounds like an unrealistic activity due to having a bigger class or more unruly students you can get similar results by putting each picture in the middle of an A4 page and have students work in groups and write directly on the page, next to each picture. You can also offer more support in this version by including the target language on the page.

The benefits of this activity are that the language is more memorable, the students are having fun and they know that their writing will have an audience, so they’ll make more of an effort.

Another example of this is my adaptation of Drawful, where we use silly drawings to make phrasal verbs more fun and memorable.

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