Game: “jumping on the article!”
The games focuses on the correct use of the indefinite article a/an. It is a 20 minute revision-consolidation game which can be played at the end of the lesson. It’s suitable for young learners (aged 7-8) at their first steps of learning English. A rope (about 3-4metres long) and two pieces of coloured cardboard (size A4) are needed. It is a game I’ve adapted to the English language teaching after watching clowns performing similar ones at parties but only for recreational purposes.
20 minutes before the lesson finishes, the teacher with the help of the students move the desks, leaving a space big enough for 12 children to stand in two lines. He? She makes sure that the classroom equipment in placed in such a way that students won’t get injured, as they’ll have to jump during the game. Then he/she places the rope on the floor , dividing it (the floor) into two imaginary separate spaces. On the first one, he/she places the first piece of cardboard having written the article “a” on it, and on the other space he/she places the second cardboard with the article “an” on it. The students stand in the first space with the article “a” and the games starts! The teacher calls out nouns and the students have to jump from spaces “a” to “an” according to the article that they should use in front of the noun. E.g. the teacher says “apple” and all the students should jump over the rope and move to the space with the “an” article cardboard. The teacher quickly says “ball” and the students have to jump to the “a” article space. He/She goes on saying “fox” and if the students jump to the wrong article , they are to leave the game. The role of the teacher us to call out nouns quickly and make students confused. The winner is the student who has jumped on the correct article spaces during the whole game.
Though the game might be a little noisy and fast paced for the students, they seemed to be enjoying it. There was the sense of competition but there was also the exciting element of luck, as many of them were predicting wrongly the teacher’s next noun announcement and, as a result, they jumped on the wrong article space. At the end, they all felt confident about their ability to distinguish the vowels and consonants sounds and match the correct article accordingly.
Since the kids asked to repeat the game again and again, I think that instead of the articles I could use the same game revising vocabulary (food-drinks) or even grammar (adjectives-adverbs) with students at beginner ‘s level. Although team or group games are more common because they are undoubtedly a way to maintain the students’ involvement, I found out in this case, that the students didn’t feel the individual stress of competition. The game itself involves lots of physical activity and excitement that the participants focus on their goal in a more relaxing way.
“I am a teacher”
This specific activity is simple, suitable for YL (aged 7-8), who have already acquired the basic vocabulary of the English language. The purpose is to get the students to know each other, while at the same time introducing new vocabulary (professions) and practising grammar (the verb “to be”). It doesn’t require anything to be prepared in advance, just some pieces of colourful cardboard (size A4) are enough. I created this activity to help young students make their first lessons more enjoyable, using their senses (colours on papers), TPR (make them stand in a queue) without burdening them with a lot of writing or confusing them with lots of materials.
The teacher gives a piece of colourful cardboard (size A4) to each student. The students write their favourite jobs on them. If they do not know some of them, the teacher helps them with the spelling orally. Then he/she (the teacher) writes his profession on his/her piece of cardboard. Then he/she stands in front of the class, holding the paper saying “Hi, I’m Maria and I’m a teacher”. The first student, holding the cardboard with a profession written on it, goes next to the teacher saying “Hi, I’m…..(name) and I’m…(profession)”. He/She also has to mention the teacher’s name and job like” This is Maria. She’s a teacher”. Then the third student comes to the queue saying his/her name, profession and mentions the previous student’s name and job as well as the teacher’s! This way, all the students in class not only introduce themselves but their classmates too.
The teacher makes sure that all the kids remember each other’s names and professions and moves on to the second part. In this part, the teacher shuffles the papers with the professions and gives them to the students. Then he/she stars by saying “I’m Maria and I’m a fireman ( the profession that another student has chosen)”. Then the kids take turns saying “ This is Maria but she isn’t a fireman. She’s a teacher”.
As there were some shy students in the class, I chose to let them stand up at the end of the activity. They did this willingly because they had seen their classmates getting confused, making mistakes and laughing. So, it seemed to them like a game. All the learners enjoyed the activity asking to repeat it by using their favourite football teams (boys) and their favourite singers (girls)!
The activity is based on Vigotsky’s theory that children learn through social interaction and teaching grammar in context. The teacher gives a clear example of the activity at first (introducing himself/herself and holding the piece of paper with the profession written on it), as it’s important for YL to have clear instructions of the task they’re about to carry out. It’s an activity for small classes (appr.10 students) and it could be also done with teenagers. In this case, the students could collect more information about their classmates (hobbies, interests etc) and the teacher could round off by having them write a short bio of one of their classmates.