Wednesday, 21 September 2016


Divide the group into 3 to 5 teams.

Teams take turns to come up with a statement in the target language beginning with "If..." and ending with "please sit down"
For example -  "kalau rambut kamu berwarna cokelat, duduklah" ("If you have brown hair, please sit down") or "kalau anda lebih suka anjing daripada kucing, duduklah" ("If you prefer dogs to cats, please sit down.")

The aim is to knock out as many members of opposing teams as they can while leaving as many of their own team standing as possible. I would suggest that the winning team must have at least 2 people standing so that the one person in the class with a unique hobby can't just use that to make their team win "If you do archery, please sit down... oh, that's everyone but me!"

Statements may not be mean, insensitive or picking on one person (eg, "If your name is Matt, please sit down.")

Students who are sitting down can still offer statements for their team. I tend to go with a rule that each team member can only speak once so that everyone has a chance to speak. I encourage a variety of language using my normal class point / raffle ticket system to get the kids to be creative and to take risks.

This game can be great for students to get to know each other, and also is fun if the students know each other well as they can use what they know about each other.

You could add the opportunity for people to give a "please stand up" statement stand up again, but perhaps with the proviso that they can't just repeat a previous statement - so, if the team got knocked out by "if you prefer dogs to cats, please sit down" they can say "if dogs are your favourite pet animal, please stand up", but they can't just say "if you prefer dogs to cats, please stand up."

You can focus on a theme - eg clothing, hobbies or just encourage students to come up with whatever they will. If it's getting too repetitive & similar, feel free to add a new rule (eg maximum of 4 statements about hair & eyes)

I hope all that makes sense! If not, please forgive me (and also let me know so I can clarify! I'm a bit flu-y at the moment...aduh!)

Image from

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Silent relays

This is a version of Chinese Whispers, but the focus is on writing rather than speaking.

Organise students into teams of between 5 and 10, and get the teams to form lines.
Give the person at the back of each team a word written on a piece of paper or card. They need to "write" the word using their finger on the back of the next person in their team - without speaking. They can rewrite it if needed. The 2nd person then writes the word on the back of the next person in the team, and so on till the get to the last person, who writes the word on a piece of paper (or on the board). If it's the right word, and it's spelled correctly (with accents etc if appropriate), the first team to write the word wins (or gets one point). If it's wrong, the team starts over.

For a longer game, count this as one round. The person at the front of the line moves to the back and everyone else shuffles down one place and a new word is given.

Repeat as desired!

This could also be played by "air writing" with the finger (with the 2nd team member turned to face the first, but with the rest of the team still facing away.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Foldover - write, read and draw.

Another version of foldover stories - my sister taught me and Miss 7 this last weekend while she was visiting from inter-state and I've already used it with great success in class.

For this version, each student again needs pen & paper. Colour pencils can be useful also.

To start, each person writes a sentence (or, even better, a short paragraph) in the target language.  This is passed on to the second person who reads what was written, and has to DRAW it as best they can.
Now, the writing is folded over so that only the picture can be seen, and it is passed on again.
The next person must write what they think the initial sentence (or paragraph) said, based on what is shown in the drawing.  Fold over so only the latest writing is visible, and repeat. And repeat again if desired :)  You should end with writing rather than a picture. At the end, students compare the first and last versions.

There's a full explanation here. (I found it after I'd typed up the post, and was looking for a picture! Oh well!)

Mini-foldover stories!

This version of foldover stories is much quicker, and can work with students with a smaller vocabulary - so better for younger students or those with less language experience.

I've taken the instructions from ITESLJ, as written by Vicki Konzen.

This is an old favorite.
Give each student a sheet of blank paper. Write the following words on the board in a vertical line: WHO, WHAT, HOW, WHERE, WHEN, WHY.
Explain that everyone will be writing a sentence story.
Write an example on the board, explain, asking for suggestions.

  1. Tell them to write someone's name at the top of their paper, i.e., their own, a classmate's, the teacher's, a famous person that everyone knows; fold the paper over once so no one can see it, then pass the paper to the person on their right.
  2. Write on the received paper what the subject did (suggest funny or outrageous actions), fold it over and pass it on to the right.
  3. Continue to write one line, how they did it (adverbs), fold and pass; where-pass; when-pass; and last of all, why (because...) and pass it one more time.
  4. Have the students unfold their stories, and read them silently. Help anyone who cannot read what the others wrote, or doesn't understand.
  5. Ask one student at a time to read "their" story aloud, or turn the stories in for the teacher to read. Funny! 

Something I would change is the suggestion to use a classmate's name, as it can end up being (unintentionally or intentionally) mean. I'd let them make up a name, or use a celeb or similar.  You can make it more complicated by making it a paragraph rather than one sentence - this is taken from Wikipedia's explanation of the game Consequences
Each person takes a turn choosing a word or phrase for one of eleven questions, in this order.
  1. Adjective for man
  2. Man's name
  3. Adjective for woman
  4. Woman's name
  5. Where they met
  6. He wore
  7. She wore
  8. He said to her
  9. She said to him
  10. The consequence was… (a description of what happened after)
  11. What the world said
You may need to give some extra vocab to support this, and change the order of adjective-noun for some languages.

As an alternative, you could prepare a foldable worksheet or handout for the students to add their responses.

Selamat bermain!

Fold-over stories

Please forgive me if I've written about this before - I've had a quick search & couldn't find it so thought I'd add it :)

I use fold-over stories regularly with my Year 11 class to get them focusing on conjunctions, story-writing, character descriptions and general extending writing techniques. 

Each student will need a pen or pencil and a sheet of lined paper. I like to get the students sitting in a circle to make passing things on easier, but they do need to be at a desk or have something to lean on while writing.

Firstly, each student writes the start of a story on their page, then they fold it over so that only the last line can be seen. (This could be as few as one word, or 3 or 4 words, or a whole line if you prefer.) I ask that the students end mid-sentence.

Once they have folded the page over to hide most of what they have written, they pass it on to the person to their left, who now has to write the next part of the story without knowing what has come before.  They write a sentence to continue the story (or a few sentences - up to you to decide how much you ask them to write!), then fold it so only the last line is visible and pass it to their left.

This keeps going until the end of the page (or when you decide to finish the activity). The student now writes the ending of the story folds it over and passes it on one more time.

When everyone has finished, the students unfold the story and read it quietly - you can help with understanding as necessary. Ask for some volunteers to read or translate (or read and translate) the story, or perhaps ask for some great examples for you to read & translate to the class. Make sure that you leave time for this, as the stories are nonsensical and often very funny - and it's great to have students really trying to comprehend and collaborating to understand like they do with this activity.

I get the students to rewrite the story correcting any spelling or grammatical errors they notice in the story that they have ended up with for homework as an extra activity (both to practice grammar & spelling, and to encourage them to focus on spelling and grammar as they write), but then I'm mean like that ;) They don't write their name on it at any point, so the mistakes are somewhat anonymous.

This can be done in small to medium groups sitting in a circle, or as a whole class :)

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Mad Libs

Happy 2016!

This one is straying a little from the active games that I've tended to focus on, but I'm really looking forward to it trying it with my classes when school starts.

This came to me in the usual round-about way - I was googling craft ideas for Miss 7, got distracted and eventually saw a reference to MadLibs in a side bar and had to google that as I had no idea what it meant. It's a cloze activity, but with a twist - or maybe a blindfold? :)

It turns out that Mad Libs are stories where you have to fill in the blanks in advance, without knowing the context, just the word type (noun, verb,, adjective, adverb, pronoun etc...). What a great way to get students to be more aware of the parts of speech!

Here's an example in English -
Before you read the story in the image below, write down one of each of the following in order:
1) adjective
2) verb
3) verb
4) verb
5) plural noun
... and so on.  this is just a taster, after all.

There are loads of examples online (I did a super quick google on Mad Lib French and there were a few there already made up), but it would be so easy to create your own that were focused on particular grammar points or vocab.  Here's an example of one that could be adapted for high school second language classes below (How to date the coolest guy / girl in school) that gets students to identify vocab related to clothes, parts of the body etc.

 The best part is, students are not just motivated to read through the story as they copy in their previously identified words, they will most likely want to share them with their friends by reading aloud (or translating the story.)  Then there's discussion about what other words would have worked (or not!)...I can see a lot of potential in this.

I think I won't tell the students in advance why they are writing down the words, just get them to make the list before handing out (or showing on the projector??) the story-with-blanks. 
What do you think? Would you use this with your classes? What changes or suggestions do you have?

Selamat bermain!

ps - here's a video example: