Some teachers debate about using L1 in the classroom, and that is a valid conversation. However, some teachers use it judiciously and this is an activity to exploit that. It can be used at all levels.
- Create cards with the vocabulary item in English and another set with the item in the learners L1 (if the group is monolingual).
- Spread the L1 cards on the table. Explain that you will call out the English word/phrase and the learners should touch the translation as quickly as possible. The person who touches the card first wins the point. You can reverse this by putting the English cards on the table and then calling out the L1 translations as well.
Alternative: If the class is really big, distribute a list of the words in the L1. Then call out the translations and they circle the words. Then check with a partner or as a whole class.
Alternative: Write the words in the L1 on the board. Divide the group into 2 teams. Call the first person from each team to the board. Call out 5 words and the two players touch the translation on the board as quickly as possible. The person who “wins” the round by having the most correct touches remains at the board. The person who “loses” the round sits down and is replaced by a new player on their team. Repeat until everyone from one of the teams “loses”. The person remaining at the board is the champion.
Alternative: Create flashcards with the English on one side and the L1 translation on the back. Use the cards for individual or group drilling. Flip the cards and test again. Hand the cards to the learners and have them quiz each other in pairs (to reduce anxiety). Good as a warm-up or review at the beginning/end of the lesson.