This activity is designed to recycle new vocabulary and help students produce it and put it in context. In the example my upper intermediate class are revising a set of binomials that we’d studied in the previous lesson from English File upper intermediate 3rd ed.
Here is our lexical set. In the previous lesson the students were introduced to the vocabulary, completed a couple of gap fill exercises and produced the language in a short speaking activity.
The vocabulary is printed onto card, with a set of 16 for every pair of students.
I write two sets of 8 gap fill questions, different to the ones that the students completed in the previous lesson. Using the table, the gaps are the same size as the vocabulary cards so the task is immediately easy to follow for students and it feels more like a puzzle. For every pair of students I print a copy of both sets of 8 questions on double sided A4 paper.
Stage 1: revision
Students work in pairs and each pair is given a set of 16 vocabulary cards. They are given a couple of minutes to spread the cards out and briefly discuss their meaning – reminding each other of what they had learnt the previous week. Each pair is then given the gap fill puzzles – 8 questions on each side and every card is used once. Once they complete one side they can move to the second side. Early finishers have to recall the sentences from the first side of the page without looking, using the vocabulary cards as prompts.
Stage 2: production
Students are given a blank table and asked to write their own sentences in pairs in the same form as the previous task. Elicit an example or two on the board before they start. Monitor, assist and correct where necessary, ensuring students are writing sentences which convey meaning and that they are leaving a gap where a card can go in every sentence. If any vocabulary items are being avoided put further examples on the board and come back to them during feedback.
You can see a typical correction in the last sentence: Although we had an accident/Despite the accident
Stage 3: recycling
Once all of the students have written between six and eight sentences they pass their tables to each other (each pair keeping their own set of vocabulary cards) and try to solve each other’s gap fill puzzles. In my classroom the students are arranged in a horseshoe, so the puzzles can move around the room clockwise and I can monitor quite easily. If you have a larger class or a different layout, ask students to swap puzzles with each other, two at a time, and then they can also be responsible for checking that their puzzles are being solved correctly.
Once students have completed all of the puzzles in the room collect them and the vocabulary cards. You can use the students’ puzzles in the next lesson for a quick revision activity.
Feedback and follow up
There are a few options for feedback after the main activity:
- You can simply ask the class as a whole to give you example sentences for each of the cards.
- You can divide the class into teams and challenge them to write sentences on the board using the vocabulary. Students are restricted to the vocabulary items which were least represented during the main activity.
- Hand back the gap fill questions from the first stage of the lesson and ask students to write the answers. Without the vocabulary cards this is more challenging.
This activity could be adapted for almost any lexical set from basic pre-int. vocabulary to more advanced linkers, formal/informal language and idioms.
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Finally, here’s a link to another activity you can use to revise vocabulary with your class: