This is a highly adaptable activity that can be used with various language structures and vocabulary. It requires very little preparation and helps students produce the target language in discrete, logical stages. In the example we’re looking at the present perfect for experiences with a mixed intermediate class.
All you need is four questions or prompts for the target language and some small pieces of paper, large enough to write a single sentence. Make enough for four pieces of paper per student.
I tend to use these chopped up pieces of paper in various games; it’s a good way to use scrap paper and it helps with monitoring and error correction, which I’ll show later on.
Write your four prompts on the board:
Students discuss their answers to the prompts in pairs, but no further feedback as students need to keep their answers secret from students on the other side of the room.
Write your answers to these prompts, mixed up, on the right of the board.
Tell the students that these are your answers but they’re mixed up. They work in pairs to match the activities on the right to the prompts on the left and write them down as full sentences: e.g. “He’s never gone skiing, but he’d like to.”
Feedback with the whole class, going into detail if the students ask questions. It’s helpful to choose a mix of unusual experiences and experiences that the class know you’re interested in so they have context for their guesses. Fill in the blanks with the correct sentences as they guess.
You can use these sentences for drilling, especially if students aren’t correctly pronouncing the contracted form.
The Quiz Cards
Give each student four small pieces of paper and tell them to write their answers to the prompts in full sentences and write their names after each one. The answers must be true and written nicely, so that anyone could read them.
When they’ve finished writing a sentence they should put them at the front of their desk facing you so that you can monitor easily as students work. Help with corrections and difficult language.
Once everyone’s written at least three sentences split the class down the middle into two teams. Students sit with their team, taking only their sentences, and one person from each team collects all of their sentences and deals them out evenly among their team. Each student then reads and checks the sentences in their hand.
Students check for the following:
- They should only have one of their own sentences – swap with each other if they have more than one.
- Check the grammar and spelling for any errors – but ask me before making any changes.
- Check they can read and understand it – ask each other for clarification if handwriting or unknown words are an issue.
Pick a student from one team to read one of their sentences to the other team. They have to guess who wrote the sentence. The team must confer before giving an answer. If they guess correctly they get a point, if they’re wrong the other team gets a point.
The game continues, alternating teams, until every student has read a sentence. Declare a winner and either move on to the next stage, or if you have time and the students want to, play another round.
Students keep the sentences they were dealt and mingle with members of the other team. With each mingle partner they take it in turns to read their sentences for the other person to guess who wrote it. The aim is to speak to every member of the other team.
Once they’ve finished students go back to their desks and work in pairs to recall as many sentences that they can remember and who wrote them. Then, collect the sentences from everybody and students have to remember, and tell their partner, the sentences that they’ve been reading during the game.
The collected sentences can form the basis of your error correction/revision activity in the next lesson or be made into a display for the wall.
Finally, with the whole class, students try to remember each of the sentences that every student wrote, while the student in question tells them if they’re right or not. They then recall their own four sentences and write them in their notebooks.
You could use this activity in that form with practically any language and it requires very little preparation. Please let me know if you try the activity and you have any feedback.
This game is an altered and extended version of a game I wrote about for the British Council on the Voices blog last year. After 11 months the game has developed into a more refined and comprehensive lesson plan.