Word Cloud

This is a great way to preface a text (especially a longer one), finds the main vocabulary needed to understand the text, and presents it in a cool way. Best for B1-C2 levels.

  1. Find the text in digital format, for example, an article or wikipedia entry. Copy the text into a word cloud generator (there are a ton, just check the ones that are compatible with your computer). Press enter and voila, you have a word cloud. (you can make adjustments to the settings).
  2. Show the word cloud to the learners. Explain these are the most frequent words from a text (the larger, the more frequent). Ask them if there are any unknown words, pre-teach them or ask the others to explain if they know.
  3. Then ask the Ls to predict what the text is about. I usually write a few of the guesses on the board.
  4. Then read the text (using whatever strategies you normally use for texts). Check if their predictions where correct.
  5. Then have them write or give an oral summary of the text using the words in the word cloud. This is where the unknown words will move from passive understanding to active use.

This is basically a great confidence booster. When the Ls get a long text with lots of new words, it can be demotivating. But when you explain that they just need the main words, that helps. Usually, however, they don’t KNOW what the “main” words are. A word cloud helps out in that area as it pulls the words with the highest frequency (usually omitting words like a, the, it etc which can be changed in the settings).

1-1: This works perfectly for 1-1 as described above.

Body Parts

This can be adapted to levels from A1-C2, depending on the target vocabulary.

  1. Elicit what the learners already know. Draw a person on the board, point to a part and ask, “What is this?”. If someone knows it, write the word on somewhere along the side of the board (you will have 2 lists along the sides of the board at the end) in random order.
  2. Continue eliciting, and giving words that they don’t know.
  3. Then give two of the learners a marker and tell them to connect 3 words on the board with a line to their corresponding body parts.
  4. Then they pass the marker to another learner. (So they CHOOSE which words they want to connect).
  5. Check the answers as a group, drilling pronunciation.
  6. Then erase the lines but leave the words. Go down the list and say “Where is your X?”. Once everyone has it, erase that word. Go through the entire list this way so that only the diagram of the person is left.
  7. Then quiz them the other way by asking “What is this?” when you point to your own body (or the diagram). You could split the group in two and give points for the first/correct answer.

This is the introduction of the vocabulary. I usually follow with Simon says (for lower levels) and/or other exercises. At higher levels I introduce more advanced vocabulary like organs, ear lobe, knuckles etc. and do exercises on the verbs connected to these (bend one’s knees, kneel, slouch, stretch etc.) and idioms connected with body parts (foot the bill, eye s.o. etc.). This exercise is really just a springboard.

For 1-1: This works perfectly in 1-1 situations as well.

Vocabulary Quiz from the Learners

This is a not about flipped classrooms. I use this exercise with any level from B1-C2. I usually use it with a text, for example an article.

  1. After doing an interactive lead-in to the topic and prediction questions based on the headline, distribute the text/article.
  2. As homework have the learners read the text (if it is long, break it into sections and one group reads one section).
  3. Then they should create a vocabulary quiz (including collocations, phrasal verbs, idioms etc.). The quiz can take various forms and they are allowed to choose:
    1. match the definition to the word (they get the definitions from a dictionary)
    2. find the word in the text with this definition… (from a dictionary)
    3. gap fill (they type a sentence from the text and leave one word/phrase out)
    4. label the diagram with words from the text (they bring a diagram)
    5. broken collocations (match the first part of the collocation to the second part)
    6. etc.
  4. I usually limit it to 5 or 10 words. The learners are already familiar with these exercises from me, books, workbooks and worksheets from the training, so remind them to look at those for inspiration.
  5. They bring enough copies for everyone in class.
  6. You can do the quizzes as a straight up “test” or I like to make a game out of it. Give them a few minutes alone (or in pairs if weaker) if needed or do it spontaneously for stronger learners. Then “Who has number 4 on Maria’s quiz?” and give a point to the first team to correctly answer it.

It’s great to see them create these quizzes. Once they are strong on the vocabulary, of course we return to the actual text and then do various discussion/comprehension activities.

Vocabulary Tic Tac Toe (noughts and crosses)

My learners love this review of vocabulary. It can be used at all levels from A1-C2.

  1. Ask the learners to look at their notes for the last few lessons and write down 8 words (you can make this more or fewer) on a slips of paper you distribute.
  2. Collect the slips of paper and lay 9 of them in front of you on the table (make sure there are no doubles). This is for your reference so you remember which words are in which box. Alternatively, just draw a board on a piece of paper for yourself with the words. Draw a large tic tac toe game board # on the whiteboard.
  3. Divide the class into two teams and you are going to play tic tac toe (review the rules of normal tic tac toe if necessary: i.e. that you need three X or O (your teams mark) in a row to win.).
  4. Explain that there is a word in each box and before their team can make a mark, they must first call the box they want, listen to the description/translation of the word from you and then say the correct word in English. Then they can make their mark in the box. If they do not get the word (I set my phone timer for 30 seconds), the box remains unopened.
  5. Then the next team chooses any box and repeat until one team wins.

NB: The first two times a box is attempted I usually give the same description. The third time, I add a little and the fourth time a little more (like the translation, a sample sentence, antonym and finally the first letter, then the second letter).

Because the learners choose the words, it is very relevant to them and they enjoy it. It is NOT as fast as you might think. I usually do 3 rounds which might take 20 minutes total.

I also review phrases like: top left, top center, top right, bottom left etc.

1-1: This game can not be adapted for 1-1. A minimum of 2 participants is needed to play in addition to the teacher who moderates.

Who has my phone?

This is a good review of questions and can be used form A1-B1 levels for best results.

  1. Explain that one learner will leave the room and the teacher’s phone will be given to another learner. The learner will then reenter the room and ask questions to find out who has the phone.
  2. You may need to board some question forms to remind them at this point.
    1. A1 level: Does a man/woman/person with brown hair/green shoes/etc. have the phone?
    2. A2 level: Is the person wearing…/Does the person …/Has the person got…
    3. B1 level: Did this person arrive late today?/ Is the person wearing…/Does the person …/Has the person got…
  3. Send one learner out and give a learner the phone.
  4. When the learner from outside returns, allow them to ask as many questions as possible until they can find out who has the phone (I encourage them NOT to ask “Does Maria have the phone/Do you have the phone, Maria” unless it is their very last question.).
  5. Repeat with a new learner leaving.

1-1: This could work with 1-1 if you print out a dozen pictures of different people and then place a card UNDER one of the pictures that says “phone” and have the learner play as above. You can start the game to show the learner how it’s done and to build confidence the first round (so the L “hides” the phone under a picture and you ask).

Guess my job

This is good for A1-B1 levels and can be used for general English or business English.

  1. Brainstorm jobs in English and write about 12-15 on the board.
  2. Elicit some yes/no questions about jobs with the learners, for example:
    1. Do you wear a uniform?
    2. Do you work inside?
    3. Do you work alone?
    4. Do you study at university for your job?
    5. Do you work in a team?
    6. Do you earn a lot of money?
    7. Do you use a computer in your job?
    8. Do you drive as part of your job?
  3. Put the learners in pairs or small groups. Explain that one person will choose a job from the board, but will not tell their partner/group.
  4. The partner/group may ask 4 questions from the brainstormed questions (or others) before they can guess the job.

1-1 The activity works well for 1-1 as described.

Interview Bingo

This one is great for groups (at least 9 participants or more) and lower levels (A1-A2). It can be adapted to any grammar point or vocabulary.

  1. Distribute the handout. (see sample handout below called “can you”)
  2. Ask a learner to model the dialog/interview. Explain that if the person answers with YES, the asker may write the answerer’s name in the box below the picture. For groups that can handle it, you can request that they ask a follow-up question. If the person answers NO, then nothing is written. They may ask another question to the same person.
  3. The learners move around the room interviewing their classmates (The trainer can also take part). When they have completed their BINGO card, they sit down.
  4. The trainer then calls out the learners names one at a time at random. Those who have that person’s name, should mark the box with an X. Whoever has a row (vertical, horizontal, diagonal) shouts BINGO! Then, to confirm the win, they read out their row, e.g. Marco can repair cars, Teresa can swim, and Paulo can ride a horse. The winner can get a point or a candy/sticker or other reward.

Alternative: Instead of using a photo, use a photo AND a word/phrase or only a word/phrase in the box.

This is game can not be adapted to 1-1.

can-you