Joanna Budden, British Council, Spain
These games involve the learners sitting in a circle and working as a whole class. See the related think article - Think - Methodology - Circle games - for advice on how to manage these games and for more activity ideas.Conditional chain game
This game is good to revise and practise structures in the first conditional.
- The teacher begins with a sentence, for example "If I go out tonight, I'll go to the cinema."
- The next person in the circle must use the end of the previous sentence to begin their own sentence. E.g. "If I go to the cinema, I'll watch The Last Samurai" The next person could say, "If I watch The Last Samurai, I'll see Tom Cruise" etc. etc.
A very simple game where students must think of words connected to the word that comes before.
- For example, the teacher says, "Fish", the next person thinks of a word they associate with fish, such as "water", the next person could say "a glass" the next, "window" etc.
- You can decide as a group if associations are valid. Ask the student to justify the connection.
- To make it more competitive, set a thinking time limit and eliminate students.
- When they are eliminated they can become judges.
A sentence is whispered around the circle. The last student to receive the message either says it aloud or writes it on the board. This can be a fun way to introduce a topic and activate schema at the beginning of a class. For example, for a class on food, whisper the question, "What did you have for lunch today?" Equally, at the end of a class it can be a nice way to revise structures or vocabulary from the lesson.
- To begin with, students sit in a circle and do the hand actions of lap (both hands to lap), clap, left click, right click.
- When they get the hang of it, add these words in time to the rhythm "Concentration, concentration, concentration now beginning, are you ready? If so, let's go!"
- On the first finger click, you say your name, and on the second click you say the name of someone in the circle.
- You have passed the turn to the person you nominated on your second finger click.
- Then they say their own name on the first click and the name of another student on the second.
- When they have got the idea, use lexical sets. For example, everyone says their favourite sport first then use these to play the game.
- For a competitive group, eliminate those students who make mistakes.
- The classic memory game where each person adds a new item to the list in alphabetical order.
- For example, student 1, "I went to the shops and I bought an apple" Student 2, "I went to the shops and I bought an apple and a bike". Student 3, "I went to the shops and I bought an apple, a bike and a coat".
- This game can be adapted to different levels and lexical sets. I recently revised sports and the use of do/ play/ go by playing "I went to the sports centre……" The same game but using different vocabulary. For example, student 1 "I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics", "I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics and played basketball", "I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics, played basketball and went canoeing" etc.
- Nominate one student to be in the hot seat, slightly apart from the rest of the circle.
- The rest of the group must think of questions to ask the student in the hot seat.
- They can ask anything they like, the only rule is that the student in the hot seat must answer the questions without using the words "yes" or "no".
- Also ban "yeah", head nods and shakes! For example, a student asks, "Are you wearing jeans today?" The student in the hot seat could reply, "I am" or "you can see that they're jeans!"