MES English

Using fun and interesting activities in language classes can grab the attention of your students and increase their focus and retention of the material.  These are several pages of activities and games for group lessons, private classes, kids classes, one-on-one lesson plans and more.  They are versatile, adaptable and useful across a broad range of target language structures.

MES-Mark's favorite games: page one, page two, page three

Say Theirs: sentence formation practice, fluency, or vocabulary review

I put playing cards in the middle of the table.  Each student chooses one word and then we have one round where everyone announces their word.  The students must remember everyone else's words.

Then they take turns drawing one card and placing it in front of them.  When the suits match (heart-heart) the two students race to say the other's word first.  The fastest gets the loser's pile of drawn cards and places them in his points pile.  Then the game continues.

When drawing cards the new card goes on top of the others so the student only has one card showing at a time.  When the student losses he must give all of his cards from the drawn pile to the winner (but not his point cards he already won.)

At the end, students may add their drawn pile cards they successfully protected to their points pile.

I start with single words as round one (simple vocabulary review.)  Then once the students get the hang of the game for round two or the next time we play I have the students make sentences.  So, if students are practicing past tense, they would make a short (you have to limit the sentence length) sentence like  "I went to the library."  Then, when the cards match up the attacking student would say, "You went to the library."

You'll have a room full of people speaking and they have to speak while someone else is speaking and it's a great way to get them to speak with distractions.  They will also try to bolt the phrases out as fast as they can which is great for their fluency.

Try Remembering This: learning vocabulary or short phrases, drilling game

Drilling vocabulary or just say phrases with flash cards can get boring very quickly.  This is a game to play to help students learn the vocabulary.  I run through vocabulary as usual with flash cards and drill.  Before I lose them, I show them 6-7 cards consecutively lying them face down on the table as we say them.  Then I pick up the stack and ask the students, "OK.  What was the first card?"  The first person/team who can tell me the vocabulary word/phrase/sentence wins the card, and then I ask them for the next card.  Random guessing is good but stop them at 3 or 4 and then repeat using the same cards they couldn't remember plus however many more to get you back up to the same number as before.

Ties can be inserted back into the deck or given to the weaker student/team with reassurances from the teacher, "I think he said it first." ;)

the One Breath Game: vocabulary/short phrase practice and fluency exercise

Lay out your vocabulary cards and have the students say as much as they can in one breath.  Students who can say them all will start again from the beginning and see how far they can get and a third time for the really extraordinary.  OK.  Now round two!  Try to beat your previous record.  Reward students that can improve on their performance accordingly (stamps, stickers, dollars toward prizes...)

This game is quick and should stop after 3-4 rounds or so.  We don't want students passing out.  It's a great way to help increase fluency and strengthen vocabulary, but the students should be competent in the target language.  If they can't remember the word every time, then the point of the game is lost.

I Need It - a game to practice 'What do you need?' 'I need ...' and vocabulary

This is basically Go Fish in reverse.  Students want to get rid of all the cards in their hands.  If a student collects 3 of the same card, they can discard them or hang on to them to discard all at the same time.  The first student to get rid of his cards wins.

  • deal out all the cards (you need at least 2 of each card but 3-4 is ideal)
  • The first student, S1, can ask anyone in the group 'What do you need?'
  • That person, S2, looks at her cards and answers with 'I need (whatever card she needs.)'
  • If S1 has the card, he hands it over to S2 and can go again.
  • If S1 doesn't have the card, he says something like 'Sorry.  I don't have it.' and it's the next persons turn. 

Slap: (a.k.a. karuta) vocabulary building/listening exercise

Students get into small groups of 6 or less if possible and make a circle.  You'll need at least one set of cards for each group.

Lay out the cards in the middle of the groups.  The teacher will then call out a card and the students will race to slap the card.  The first person to slap the card gets the card and the game continues.

Teachers can call out just a vocabulary word, "a book" or they can incorporate the word into a sentence, "I went to the store and bought a book."

I generally try to trick them by saying something that isn't there and seeing who slaps a card anyway.  People slapping a card by mistake must skip one round.

Slam:vocabulary review/sentence practice or fluency exercises

Lay the cards out in a single line or semicircle.  Student line up in 2 teams at either end of the line or semicircle.  One person from each team begins by saying the vocabulary or phrase associated with the first flash card and then the next and so on until the two teams meet somewhere in the middle.

Then the 2 players play rock-paper-scissors and the winner advances while the loser returns to the back of his line.  Once the loser has returned the next person from the losing team starts with the first card.  When they 2 players meet they again play rock-paper-scissors and the game continues like that.

The goal of the game is to reach the end of the line and get one point for your team.  At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins.

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