Thursday, 27 August 2009

Form up!

An easy number game, great for younger students. Have the students stand up around the room / space (outdoors is good). Call out a number, students have to form groups of that size. The race to form groups can make it exciting for little ones. Congratulate the group that forms the quickest!

Monday, 17 August 2009

What's the time, Mr Wolf?

A 3rd suggestion from Ida Harsojo. This is played the same as the normal version, but in the target language, of course! Great for primary classes & littlies...

I've taking this explanation from Wikipedia (click the link for variations)

One player is chosen to be Mr Wolf (the name usually remains "Mr Wolf" irrespective of the gender of the player). Mr Wolf stands at the opposite end of the playing field from the other players, facing away from them. A call-and-response then takes place: all players except Mr Wolf chant in unison "What's the time, Mr Wolf?", and Mr Wolf will answer in one of two ways:

* Mr Wolf may call a clock time - usually an hour ending in "o'clock" ("Three o'clock!").

The other players will then take that many steps towards Mr Wolf, counting the steps out loud as they go ("One, Two, Three!"). They then ask the question again.

* Mr Wolf may call "Dinner Time! (or, occasionally, "Lunch Time!"). "Midnight!" may also be used.

At this point, Mr Wolf will turn and chase the other players back to their starting point. If Mr Wolf successfully tags a player, that player becomes the new Mr Wolf for the next round.

(the version I played as a child was different again from the variations suggested on Wikipedia - another game with lots of different ways of playing!)

Unnamed! Suggestions, please!

Another game from Ida Harsojo! This is written with Primary MFL in mind, but could easily be adapted for older & more confident classes.

Divide the class into as many teams as you can, the more the better.

Write several questions on the board - for example:
1. Write 2 Indonesian words starting with S
2. Write a country starting with S (in English if Indonesian is too hard)
3. Write a big city starting with S (in English if Indonesian is too hard)
4. Write a fictional character starting with S

Every team should write their answers on a piece of paper. Once all finish, the teacher has to write their answers on the board so everyone can see the answers. Any answer that is the same only gets 5 marks, if a team comes up with an answer tht no one else has they get 10 marks. So the aim is to think of an answer which no one else thinks of.

Add the marks, the team who gets the most mark, wins.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

King Monkey

This one has been suggested by Ida Harsojo, from NSW.

Students sit in a circle. One is out (to guess later who Raja Monyet is) – so usually he/she is sitting outside the door of the classroom. The class, sitting in a circle decide who raja Monyet(King Monkey) is. The one who is outside is called back.
He/she asks someone else ‘Siapa namamu?’ (What's your name?) the student who is asked will say their names if he/she is not Raja Monyet. When the one who is designated to be Raja Monyet is being asked, he/she has to answer ‘Raja Monyet’, and he/she will be the one out. Keep track how many guesses the students do, the one who asks the question the fewest times win. The students love being the one outside, and the others are happy to be among Raja Monyet too. This is meaningful repetition for asking ‘siapa namamu’?

You can change the question into ‘Kamu dari mana?” The students can answer their origin, while the one will be answered dari ‘hutan’ (from the jungle - for orang-utan). And he will be out. The question can be ‘Berapa umurmu?’ (how old are you?) Just decide which number is the magic one depending on the ages of the students and decide a much older age etc.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Key Words

Each student is given a word for the week (or fortnight, or even just for the lesson). Carry on your lessons as normal, but occasionally call out one of the allocated words. It could be done deliberately (eg call it out while students are doing some quiet work - if that ever happens!) or just mentioned naturally as part of the lesson depending on the words you use.
If the student recognizes it as their word and remembers to stand up, then they get a point or some kind of reward.
This can be a way to give weaker students a go - give them a word that is likely to come up more often.


this is pretty well known, and can be played orally as "Think Fast" (see below.) Otherwise, give students a time limit (between 15 and 45 seconds works well to keep everyone engaged and keep it "pacy" - but you can give longer limits if your students have the vocabulary and the attention span!) - I give a different limit each time, and don't always warn students how long they will have.

Give a category (things that are usually red, activities that don't involve a ball... the more creative the category the better, but you can stick with standard MFL categories such as words beginning with..., things you'd find in a classroom) and call out your "start!' word (in the target language.)

Students write down as many words as they can think of that fit the category. Students get one point for each correct word they have written by the end of the time limit.

A variation: Once you have stopped them (at the end of the time limit), ask the student who has come up with the most words to call out their words. If they call out a word that others have written down (they call out to say) doesn't count. All students need to cross out any words that anyone else has also written - this means students start getting creative and thinking laterally about what words to write down.

Another variation: as a team game. Give a longer time limit, and each team has one pen and one peice of paper. The paper can be sticky-taped up on the wall (each piece away from the others so that the other teams can't read them!). Students are grouped on the other side of the room so they need to run to the piece of paper, write down their word then run back to pass the pen on to the next person.

Of course, there are lots of other ways to adapt this one - please add your version as a comment below!


You will need a defined space for this one if playing outside. It can be played in the classroom with all the furniture left as is, or you can re-arrange or remove the desks.

Students stand up and spread themselves around the space.

The teacher asks a question and selects someone to answer (e.g. first hand up.) If the answer is correct, the student takes a step. If they can reach another student to “tag” them, the tagged student is out and must sit down. Students may chose to step further away instead.

Continue until there is just one student left standing, or until the students become a little restless.

Variations: If no one who is standing can answer a question but someone who is out can answer correctly, then that student can rejoin the game.

A magnificent answer (e.g. full sentence, demonstrating newly taught structure or something else unexpected but wonderful) earns the right to take 2 steps.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Noughts and Crosses - From Anne MacKelvie

Set the vocabulary cards up in a noughts and crosses formation on the board. Split the class into two teams, one being the noughts and one the crosses. The pupils have to correctly name the vocabulary in order to place their 0 or X.

Students from all year levels like this one!

Hatschi Patschi

From Anne MacKelvie:
Students sit in a circle on chairs (all facing into the circle).
One student is "it" and has to stand facing away from the circle. The teacher gets all students in the circle to close their eyes and then proceeds to tap 3 kids on the head. All students may then open their eyes and the person that is "it" may come into the circle.
This student will go around the circle asking individual students a question in the target language. Each student is required to give a correct answer, except for the students that have been tapped on the head. When a question is addressed to them they simply call out "Hatschi Patschi", which is the signal for all students in the circle to jump up and run to a different chair (incl. the student who was in the middle).
The new student left without a chair is now "it" and the game begins again.

(Danielle's comment: I am looking forward to trying this one with my students. The basic circle & swapping seats idea is explored in different ways under the heading of "Fruit salad" further down the page.

With beginner learners, the question can be the same one repeated over and over as a way of drilling both the question and practicing responses, and swapped (or not) with after each "hatchi patchi". With students who have a wider knowledge of the target language, you can make a rule that students can't repeat a question.)

team whispers

Write a good selection of numbers on the board (depending on the age of your children) and divide the class into 2 teams facing the board.
Stand at the back of the classroom and call one student from each line over to you. Whisper a number from the board to the students, who then have to run back to their team and whisper it to the next person in their line.
The whispers carry on down the line until they reach the person at the front who has to find the number, slam it with their hand and shout the number. This game can also be used with any vocabulary being used (fruit, family etc) simply by putting the pictures on the board.
A great game for all ages which has never let me down!


Another one from Anne - a worksheet based game this time.

This fun worksheet activity is based on the popular anagram pencil puzzles. I've used it in Russian class for ages 11-13, but am currently adapting it for other languages and younger children.
Choose 10-12 vocabulary words that you would like to reinforce with your students. As you develop your list, have in mind a common idiom or well-known saying in the target language whose words contain letters found in the vocabulary list. Scramble the vocab words, placing the appropriate number of blank dashes next to each one.
At the bottom of the page, place dashes for each letter of each word of the idiom or saying that you want your students to "decode." Number each dash of the unscrambled letters that are to be transferred to dashes of the mystery phrase at the bottom. You can give clues for the anagrams, if necessary.
As your class unscrambles the words onto the dashes, they transfer the numbered letters to the dashes at the bottom, revealing the "code."
This activity is fairly quick and simple for a teacher to devise, yet also fun, reinforcing and informative for students.

Another "code" you can use when starting out with learning numbers is to assign each letter of the alphabet a number, then write the numbers out in words, if that makes sense. (So, if you go with the standard A=1, B=2, C=3 etc then the word "great" would be spelled out using "seven eighteen five one twenty" - but in the target language. eg, "tujuh delapan belas lima satu dua puluh")

(I've done something very similar by typing in a list of words, sentences or a message in Word (or similar), then changing the font to Webdings or wingdings, and providing a key at the bottom (the alphabet in both webdings and "normal" font.) Students love codes, and this has always been popular! I used it a couple of times in Saya Bisa! - Danielle)

Hot and cold

From Anne again!
This can also be used for teaching anything that needs chanting (e.g. counting numbers). One person leaves the room and the other pupils hide an object. As the person comes back in the pupils start chanting louder as the person gets nearer and quieter as the person is further away until the object is found. When the object is found, another pupil gets to go out.

(this one is also one of the games on "short & simple ideas for MFL classes - the link is on this page under "Other fun and games" - it's very much worth checking out! - Danielle)

Living bingo

Thanks again, Anne! You're a star!

You will need 2 sets of cards, one set with the Indonesian word and the other with either a picture or the English word.
Hand out the Indonesian words to the students and divide the class into groups of 4 or more. I usually divide my class into 4 groups and have each group stand in a corner with their cards. Then call the English word or show the picture. The person with the Indonesian card gets to sit down.
The first team with all its members sitting is the winner (Bingo!).

Tidak ada (What's missing?)

Thanks Anne for this one too!

Put some objects on a table, for all the class to see.
Go through each item in Indonesian, then ask a pupil to remember all the items on the table, get that pupil to then leave the room.
Take an item off the table and then get that child to come back into the room and tell the rest of the class what item is missing in that language.
If it is correct they get to choose what item to take away next time.

Anjing, anjing, kucing (or duck, duck, goose!)

This game is played with the children sitting in a circle. You start with one child walking around the outer edge saying selamat pagi, selamat pagi and sampai nanti! or anjing, anjing, kucing (or any other combination).
Whoever the child taps on the head and says ‘sampai nanti’ or ‘kucing’ to has to get up and chase them around the circle. Obviously, to make it a surprise who will be the chaser, the student walking around the circle doesn't need to say "kucing" / "sampai nanti" / "goose" on the third child - but it can be a useful rule that they can not go around the whole circle more than once!

The winner is the child who sits down first or the child who tags the other. The other child repeats the process.

Works really well with littlies - although Year 10s have been known to suggest it as a game to play!

Budi Berkata...

Another one from Anne! It's also great for parts of the body and sports as well as drilling classroom instructions.

My Year 5 and 6 beginners love this one! Just like Simon Says, but use ‘Budi Berkata’ instead. The instructions I use are berdiri, duduklah, berjalan, berlari and berhenti – but you could add many more! When students start getting too clever, pick the ones that are slowest to move or move even a little. I ask the ones that are already out to help me pick the others, to give them something to do.

Scavenger Hunt

I love this one as a game that can be used with upper school students - we often tend to forget to play games with them, plus you can add more variety of objects. This can also be used as a dictionary practice activity of you give vocabulary items that they haven't yet come across. Thanks to Anne MacKelvie for reminding me of this one!

Make a list of items in the target language. Send students in teams to find one only of each item. First team back (or the team who has found the largest number of items from the list!) is the winner. (Perhaps agree on a finishing time or you may never see your students again!)

Another variation on this one is to provide clues in the target language for students to follow around the school - this can be simple directions or puzzle clues - it is up to you how cryptic you want to make them! Either the students list the places they go, or the next clue can be left with someone at each location (kind of like The Amazing Race on TV)


Thanks very much to Anne MacKelvie from Victoria for emailing me the instructions for this one! I have also had fun with this with my classes in the past (I first saw it in Inside Indonesia when there was still a print version) - give it a try!

Anne's instructions:
This is a great game to learn numbers. All students stand in a circle. Choose one student to start counting at ‘satu’. They may say up to 3 consecutive numbers ie 1, 1 2 or 1 2 3. Next child has their turn, choosing to count the next 1, 2 or 3 consecutive numbers. The idea is NOT to say ‘sebelas’ because if you are forced to say this number, you are out and have to sit down! After someone says sebelas, you start counting at 1 again. Last one standing is the winner. Make it a rule that students are not allowed to tell other students how many numbers to say in order to get someone out.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Snake words

Another vocabulary exercise: one student gives a word, the next word must start with the final letter or letters of the first word, and so on. The challenge is to see how long a “snake” can be created without repeating a word.

This can be done in writing individually or in small groups (2 or 3), on paper, on computers or on the board.

I have also done this as an oral activity going around the class, or as a variation on “think fast.”

A final variation – as a competition. Individuals or teams take turns to contribute words to the snake, with points awarded to the team that gives the final word (ie when the other team can not come up with a word that will work)

Write, Draw or Translate!

This game was taught to me by a prac teacher a few years ago (maaf, ya –saya lupa siapa!) and is one of those games that is surprisingly effective.

Divide students into 4 or 5 groups and give each group a whiteboard marker (it is easiest if each group has a different colour, but it’s not essential). Each group selects a representative who goes up to the board.

Using the target language, give an instruction – either “write *vocabulary item*”, “draw *vocabulary item*” or “translate *vocabulary item*”. Each person at the board quickly does as instructed, then squats down on the floor so it is clear that they are finished.

“Write” can be substituted with “Spell” as it is basically a spelling task. (With Indonesian, it can be good to give them unfamiliar words for this to remind them to listen to how a word sounds when trying to spell.)
“Draw” is asking for the meaning to be shown in a clear, appropriate drawing.
“Translate” – you can give the vocabulary item in either English or the target language, and they provide the translation.

If the first person to squat down is correct, then they get a point. Otherwise the point goes to the first correct or best answer.

Each person gets 3 turns, then swap to a different team member. Make sure every team member gets a turn and that teams don’t just send up their strongest player repeatedly.

This is a pretty quiet game, as any calling out is not permitted!

Variation – get a student to take over the teacher’s role (calling out instructions)

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Board and card games that can be adapted

keeping this one short & sweet:

Uno! - students have to name the colour & number or instruction in the target language as they play. Useful & fun to add extra words such as "cheat!" "I win!" "whose turn?"

Guess who!
- great for encouraging students to learn extra words beyond the basicsto describe people, and to be creative with what they know (eg use of negatives). Also interesting if you have discussed / taught how people in the TL describe people (ie - Indonesian people don't tend to focus on hair colour and eye colour as much - they talk about face shape, eye shape - how can these be applied?)
Pictionary - you don't even need to own the board game for this one! Students need to draw a word that is given without using symbols or letters, other students have to guess the word. Can be quite challenging depending on the range of words they have learnt, and especially if you don't limit it to nouns and verbs...

and, of course, you can purchase games like monopoly in the Target Language. Even better: there is the option of getting your students to design board games - some of these are great and almost professional in standard!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

pak totomoto / asherbanipal / telephoning

This game has been around forever, and you (and /or your students) will probably be familiar with at least one version of it. I'll explain the simplest version first.

Each student is given a number (1 to 28 or similar - you can use higher numbers or a mix of non-consequetive numbers if your students are already pretty good with numbers.)

The teacher has a title (I use Pak Totomoto in Indonesian, my high school French teacher used Asherbanipal).

Start off by saying your title, then a number (eg, "Pak Totomoto, 2")
The student with that number then has to repeat their number and call someone else. (2, 18). And so on.
Any one who calls someone who is already out, or breaks one of the other rules you have put in place, is out. As students get more familiar with the game / vocabulary involved, you may want to add or tighten up rules.
The idea is to keep it quick - if a student takes too long they are out.
I suggest that you have a rule that restricts calling bask the person who called you, and watch out for students who just call the same number over and over.
You can also add a rule regarding mis-pronouncing words (I tend to give 3 chances here - but then you need to remember who has had a chance.)

An easy way to keep track of who is in and out is to write the numbers on the board (figures only) and cross them out as they get out. This way students can see also. You can make it harder by not letting the students see who is out.

* Add a rhythm (eg, click fingers, click fingers, clap. Need to say the numbers on the clicks. VERY hard with bigger numbers, at least in Indonesian!)

* Use different vocabulary. For this variation, I arrange the students in a circle. Each student is given a vocab item from a related set (eg, occupations or adjectives describing people). Students can either be given a picture that shows the meaning of the word, or can write their word clearly on a sheet of paper if you don't have pictures or you weren't planning on this game. They hold up the picture / sheet of paper while they are in, and place it flat or on the floor once they are out.

* Mix languages. Students say the first word (their own number / word) in English, then the second in the target language.

It can be useful to have something for students to do once they are out (eg a crossword or vocab activity on the words being drilled, or as "police" to watch for any over-long pauses etc), otherwise keep it really snappy.

You can also get a student to take over as the leader (Pak Totomoto)

Sunday, 12 July 2009

think fast!

No set up required for this one, although if you are going to have the students in a circle or U shape for another activity that can work really well.

You need a stress ball or other throwable, soft item. (I have a wide selection - kids' squirty bath toys like rubber ducks work well, as do squishy balls, and I know other teachers who use small soft toys for similar purposes - you don't want it to be too interesting though, or it will slow down the game.)

Safety rules - you throw TO someone, not AT someone. It can be useful to get them to call the name of the person they are throwing to.

You give the students a category, then throw the ball to a student. The student needs to give a word that fits the category, then pass the ball to someone else. It needs to be done quickly - the name of the game is "think fast" after all!

If they are too slow, or repeat a word that has already been said within the category, then they get a point. The student(s) with the fewest point win! For a shorter version, you can ignore the point system.
I change the category when someone makes a mistake (esp if the category is getting exhausted), or at a random point.

suggested categories:
things that are usually red.
things that would fit in a normal sized pencil case.
things that wouldn't fit through the door.
words that start with the letter ""
words you would use to describe a fantastic friend

also, standard categories such as food, hobbies, adjectives can be used!

ideas for games

I love using new games in my classes, and my students occasionally now make suggestions. I have adapted tv shows for the classroom (I am not as organised as some, so don't use the Millionaire powerpoints etc - my versions tend to be more adapted and changed.) Another great source of ideas is games used in other settings - not just board games, but ice-breakers and so on that we tend to run into from time to time. The Peer Support Program makes use of a wide variety of games, some of which can be adapted for use in the MFL classroom. Here is a somewhat random list of games that I have used with my students.

the classic tv game show where students are given the answers and need to provide the questions - I find students don't get enough opportunities to practice asking questions in the target language. (There is a template here though if you want to be snazzy and have the full set-up UPDATE: Or an even better version here)

Millionaire and Millionaire Hotseat: best as a team game or with a small group. am still tweaking the format of these for maximum participation from all students.

Go go stop (a children's tv quiz show - requires some preparation to make a "game board" on which the students step. I used laminated cards with one of the following printed onto the bottom / hidden side - in the TL: question, instruction, one step, two steps, sit down. The aim for each student is to get to the other side and sit down. If they land on a question card, they need to answer the question. If they land on an instruction card, they need to follow the instruction (given in the TL). The other cards are "free passes" - so there are very few "sit down" cards!)

will add others later!

Running "translations"

A pretty well known game. Students divide up in pairs. One has a piece of blank paper and a pen, the other is given a short piece of text. They are divided up across as large a space as possible (so this game is great for outside, but otherwise across a classroom with the furniture cleared in good also.)
The student with the text needs to help the other student to write down the text they have been given - but they can not move it. So, they must memorise bits of it, run to their partner and tell their partner what to write. Spelling counts. The runner can not touch the pen. The fun comes in as people invariably forget things, skip bits, miss-spell things, or run too fast and lose their breath so can't repeat it. Encourage students to use what they know about the spelling rules and syntax patterns that they have learned of the TL to help make sure they are on the right track.
First team to get it right wins. Switch roles between texts or at appropriate, teacher selected intervals.

variations -
1) as the name of the game suggests, the pairs need to translate not just transcribe the text.
2) for beginners, it can be a list of words rather than a paragraph.
3) "shouted translations" - each pair gas a different text / set of words. The partner with the original text must tell their partner across the space (ie shout). Their partner will need to listn carefully as all the teams will be shouting at once.

team bingo

There are lots of versions of team bingo, and lots of variations on each one - this is the one I use most often.

Divide students into small groups, preferably equally sized (3 per group works well, no more than 4 recommended.) Each group will need a piece of paper and pen / pencil. Get each group to draw up a grid of 9 squares (3x3), each square large enough to write in (approx 3cm x 3cm would be my minimum - or say 1/2 page for the total grid)

On the board, draw up your own matching grid. In each grid, write a word or sentence (depending on language level). Students must work as a group to provide a the TL equivalent if the clue is in their first language, or the 1st language equivalent if the clue is in the target language. But it must be perfect - spelling, word order, punctuation etc...
Because it students are required to give an equivalent, a translation won't always be right - eg bon voyage = happy travels not good traveling.

When they think they have it, they bring it to the teacher. You tell them how many they have correct (but not which ones) and they can go and make changes.

First group to get it all perfect wins!

You can make up grids for the students in advance and print out (either blanks or ones with the clues printed on it), or use a projector to show the clues (then you can use pictures as clues also) - depending on how organised you are!


My students think this should be called "hot seat", but it's nothing like the TV show, so I have called it Caterpillar to avoid confusion. This is a game that I devised & adapted over several years to its present form - no doubt I was influenced by other games though, so please don't feel offended if it has some similar elements in it to other classroom games!

Caterpillar is a team game, however it works even better when teams are uneven in size at it means that students get to "compete" with someone different each time around. It allows for everyone to contribute something - the student who is agile but not so good at languages can use that, the student with the great memory for vocab is an asset to the team, as is the problem solver, and even the maths whiz depending on your questions. The game allows for consultation among the team, but there are also rules that control the volume too.

It's a tricky one to explain - normally I use a hands-on approach to "teach" the game. Hopefully this will be clear enough... Otherwise, it's one I will demonstrate at the MLTAWA conference in August 09, so sign up!

here goes!

You will need at least 20 minutes for this one, and I suggest a full lesson (30 - 45 minutes) for the first time to give students a chance to learn, and to make sure that every student gets at least one turn in the hot seat.

Set up:
Get rid of all the desks (except two) - push them to the very edge of the room, stack them etc. You will need a large rectangular space. Line the chairs up in two lines facing each other at least one and a half metres apart (so there is space for 2 students to run back down the aisle at one time). You need one chair for each student.
Put two desks (with another 2 chairs) at one end of the aisle next to each other facing down the aisle.
At the far end of the aisle there should be a space that students can touch at the end of their run without knocking anything over - a wall, another desk or chair, a cupboard etc. (check the photo of my class for the setup)
Don't worry - the students get very quick at setting up the class for games once they know which set up you need!

The game:
Remember to go through safety rules (no pushing, tripping etc) as always!

Divide the class in two teams using whatever method you prefer (I may post a separate entry on different ways to divide teams that make use of the target language later if people are interested? Let me know!) and get them to sit in the chairs facing in each other. The two students who are nearest the two desks will go first. While they are sitting, call out a question. Now, there are two possibilities...

a) the students know the answer - they get up, run to the other end of the aisle, touch the wall / cupboard and run back and sit at the desk.

b) They don't know the answer - in this case, they get up, run to the person on their team who they think will know and consult. No one else is allowed out of their chair. When they have the answer, they must go back and touch their chair before running to touch the wall at the far end and then running to the front to sit at the desk. (so, needing to consult will slow them down.)

The person who is sitting at the desk first is selected to answer the question. If they get it correct, they get a point. If they get it wrong, the other team gets to try. If it's partly right, the other team can have a go at giving a "better answer" - eg, full sentence answer - up to you how you allocate points in this case. If they are both wrong, you can either let them run again with the same question (and same rules regarding consultation) or move on to the next question.

At the end of the turn, those students go to the far end of the aisle of seats and everyone shuffles up one chair so that the next student is in the head seat.

and so on! Hopefully that's clear - if you have any questions or suggestion for improvement, please let me know!

Extra rule for noise control:
No one can speak while their team's runner is running - otherwise they need to touch their chair and run again. This can reduce cheating also as it means they can't call an answer out.

Of course, these vary with the amount of Target Language that the student has learned. You can also adapt the questions for the different runners - easy qs for weaker students, a question that will require consultation for the athelete if she / he is matched up against the language whiz...
If you make it clear, you can also mix it up by:
(a) giving instructions that they must follow when they are selected (eg, "go out the door and dance" "put your pencil case on your head" etc)
(b) giving answers that they need to give a question to go with.
(c)team questions (eg, sing a song in the TL as a team - up to you how you give points for this!)

I occasionally give points for correct use of problem solving language (eg "I don't know", "I don't understand", "Can you repeat that, please" and so on.) But not always, otherwise I get someone who will always say "Maaf, saya belum tahu."

Sample questions (asked in the TL):
1) (my fav) "what is MY name?" - great to see if they are actually listening as they expect "what is your name?" (also fun to see students struggle with "how old am I?"- should they guess accurately, or flatteringly?)
2) what is next in this pattern? 2, 4, 8...
3) what is the capital of...
4) what is the name of the principal?
5) how many teachers can speak / teach Indonesian at this school?
6) what is your science teacher's name?
7) How many students / people / teachers / girls / boys are there in this room? (they rarely count teachers as people!)
8) who is the tallest in the room?

as well as all your standard drill / revision questions of course! It's also a chance to get to know the students, and for them to get to know you. My students all know my daughter's name, and the name of my cat, and some of my hobbies purely for games like this.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Fruit salad!

Lots of variations on this one! The basic version first:
Divide participants into about four different groups (depending on number! The groups don't need to be equal in size). Each group is allocated a fruit as a team name.

Arrange chairs in a circle facing inwards, with one chair less than the number of participants. Everyone takes a seat, with the person who is left standing in the middle.

The person in the middle names a fruit and each person in that team has to try and swap seats with someone else, while the person in the middle also tries to get a seat. Hopefully someone new is left standing in the middle. Instead of naming one fruit, they can instead call "buah-buahan" (or similar) and everyone has to scramble for a new seat.

Explain safety rules before starting (no pushing / shoving / dangerous or silly behaviour) - I usually add a rule that says that students must move at least 3 seats away from their last seat, or at least go into the middle before moving to the new seat. You might like to add rules to control noise etc also depending on the group!

Variation 1: To help with learning meanings, the student in the middle can call the fruit out in either English or Indonesian, but must mix it up (watch out for students who try to always use the same word, or always use English etc)

Variation 2: The student in the middle calls out a colour in Indonesian. If a student is visibly wearing that colour, they must swap (extra rule - can't call anything that targets just one student). Call out "pelangi" or "berwarna-warni" to get everyone to move. (great for free dress days, but works with hair ties, jewelry, watches, sports shirts...)

Variation 3: Kalau Anda memakai... to practice clothing. great for free dress days or days when some students are in sports uniforms, or let students bring in a couple of items specially, or let some take off their shoes / socks...

Version 4: (this is actually the version I use most often) The student in the middle makes a statement (eg - "Kalau Anda beradik", "kalau Anda tinggi" or "Kalau Anda suka bermain bola basket" dll) - if the statement is true for them, students must swap seats with someone. I make a rule that says that you are either one thing or another - tall or short, blue, brown, grey or green eyes - not anything wishy-washy that can't be stated... ad once they have made their decision they must stick with it. Personally, I am happy for the shortest student in the class to decide that they are "tinggi" as long as they stick with it throughout. Again, nothing that targets just one student, and obviously no put downs! I encourage students to be creative and will give some kind of reward for the best or most original statement(s) - great to encourage experimenting with language. Obviously, this can become more varied as the students cover more topics.

Selamat Datang!

Hi - welcome to my blog on using games in the second language classroom! I will be refering to Indonesian for examples, and often for titles, but all games will be "transportable" to other 2nd language situations. I won't be refering to useful websites in this blog (unless they are about class games, not online games), although that's one of my other passions. I will tag each game with the level of language that I think fits best, also primary / secondary / upper secondary. Please feel free to add comments, suggestions or questions and I will try to update this from time based on any feedback...
Hopefully this is of some use to you, even if it is just reminding you of something you haven't done for a while. Using games to help language acquisition isn't new, and I won't pretend it is, but I hope there is something here you haven't tried, or can adapt for your own situation.
Selamat bermain!