Grouping

There are many ways of grouping learners for pair work or small group work activities. Here are some of my favorites.

  1. Counting off (group work). How many groups do you need, 3? 4? 5? Decide that number first then have the learners count off. Learner 1: “One”, learner 2 “two”, learner 3 “three”, learner 4 “one” (if you need three groups, for example). Then tell everyone who counted “one” to come together. Everyone who counted “two” forms a group and so on.
  2. Strings (pair work). Everyone loves this. Cut long strings (at least a meter). You should have half as many strings as learners. i.e. if you have 10 learners, you will need 5 strings (for uneven number of learners, you should count yourself). Lay the strings flat on the table, then grab the center of the strings. Hold your hand up so the ends of the strings dangle. Then tell the learners to all grab one end. Then you let go and they should find their partner at the end of their string.
  3. Sentence halves/thirds (pair work or group work). Create some sentences using recently learned vocabulary (collocations are great) or grammar. Write/print them on strips and cut them in half (or thirds if you need groups of three). Example: Have you ever / ridden a camel? Did you / ride a camel on your last vacation? etc. Distribute the pieces and then tell the learners to find their partner(s).
  4. Ability (pair work or group work). Ask the stronger learners to work with the stronger learners and the weaker learners with the weaker learners. Separating by ability is effective especially when you are doing a differentiation exercise in which the level is actually different though the task may be similar. Or you can pair stronger learners with weaker learners and ask the stronger learners to CHECK the work of the weaker learners.
  5. Balloons (pair work or group work). I use this for review games. Create team names that are relevant to the topic you most recently studied. For example, Thanksgiving or Advertising. Then create team names (such as: The Animals, The Dishes, The People or The Brands, The Companies, The Slogans). Then write/type examples of the categories on strips of paper (such as: duck, seal, turkey, deer, pig. and yams, stuffing… or Fanta, MacBook Pro and Coca-Cola Company, Macintosh etc.). Then put one slip of paper into a balloon and inflate the balloon and tie it. The balloons can be scattered in the room, hanging on the walls or the chairs. When you are ready, tell the learners that they will be in teams. The Animals are in this corner, The Dishes in this corner etc. Tell them to find a balloon and pop it! They should then read their slip and try to figure out what team they belong to an collect in that corner of the room. Loud but fun!
  6. Names in a hat (pair work or group work). Half the class writes their name on a slip of paper and throws it in a hat/bag/bowl/on the table. Then one by one a person who didn’t write their name on a slip, takes a slip, and opens it. That person is their new partner/team member.
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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