I usually use this exercise for A1-B1 levels. It aims to check not only comprehension and grammar but also memory.
- After learners have read a text (as homework or in class). Divide the texts into sections and assign one section to groups/pairs. For example, if the text has 12 paragraphs and you have 9 learners, create 3 groups and assign 4 paragraphs per group.
- Give the learners scrap paper (A4 cut in 4 is fine). Tell them to write one question about their part of the text on each slip of paper. You can decide how many slips to give each group, depending on the length of the text. The questions can be open or closed, but should not be opinion questions. Example of OK questions: When was X invented? Where did… How did… Did X patent the invention right away? etc. The trainer should circle and help with grammar as needed.
- Then have them fold the questions and throw them into the center of the table.
- Once all the questions have been written, tell them that each team is going to take a question and has 20 seconds to answer it. They will get 1 point if the content is correct and 1 point if the grammar is correct. Keep track on the board.
- The winning team is the team with the most points.
This is great for lower levels because it a) gives them the chance to review the text and make sure they really understood in a way that they feel safe, b) it reviews the asking and answering of questions which learners at this level still have trouble with. Even if they get a question they wrote, they have to actually answer it, so it’s OK.
1-1: This exercise can be adapted for 1-1 but then the trainer is one team and the learner is one team, which means the trainer can not check the grammar of the questions before they go in the center (but that’s OK).
Lost in the Post
I learned this one from Scott Thornbury in a workshop on the dogme movement. I have adapted it a little and use it often because it is so easy and such a great hit. It’s best for elementary-intermediate levels.
- I explain that I had an interesting weekend/vacation and they can ask me questions about it.
- Put them in groups of 2-3. Hand out slips of scrap paper that they can write one question on and deliver it to you at the front. If the question is formulated grammatically correct, you will answer it. If not, the slip gets sent back to the group as it is. They can then correct and resend the slip. (If they still can’t get it, I underline the part that needs to be corrected or give little tips like “tense?” or “word order”). Note, you can also have the groups do this via whatsapp, text message etc. And if the question is not formulated correctly send a “?” as a response.
- Allow this to continue for about 10 minutes.
- Next, stop the groups and explain that they should order there slips of paper in a way that is logical, as when telling a story.
- Then have them write the story out. You can have them do this individually or as a group. All the while, the trainer should circle and help with language points. Encourage them to NOT just write the answers, but to embellish and add their opinion or information that is missing and connectors/linking words. For example if the slip said “Where did you go? I went to Malta”. They could then write “Justin went to Malta because he likes islands and warm weather.” This may also be given as homework. Just have everyone in the group photograph the slips with their smart phones.
- Finally, you can have the groups read out their stories. I ask the groups to compare the differences which often sparks new conversations.
1-1: This can work in a 1-1 setting, though it is quite (which might be a nice little break).