Tag Archives: Board Game

T.I.M.E. Stories

A journey quite unlike any other.

PRACTICE:

  • indirect speech
  • reading for gist and detail
  • reporting and summarising
  • collaborative decision making

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Level (CEFR C1-C2)
  • 15 years and older.

THE RUNTHROUGH:

T.I.M.E. Stories has a time-travelling science fiction premise, which, to be honest, when I explain it to people seems to put them off for some reason.  If there was one game which demonstrated EVERYTHING that was great about the newer generation of board games, then this is it.  All you really need to know is that this game has a system in which you can take part in scenarios and adventures that can take place anywhere and anytime.  Players work together as a team to solve a mystery and if they aren’t able to do it in the time provided, then Groundhog Day style, they get to do it again from scratch.  The stories are extremely compelling and it will have ESL / EFL learners reporting information, speculating about evidence and planning the best possible course of action.

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Wits and Wagers

TEFLGamer does not condone teachers using gambling in the EFL classroom as an additional revenue stream.

PRACTICE:

  • Numbers, years, percentages, weights and measures
  • speculation
  • hedging (sounding less certain)

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Level (CEFR A2-C1)
  • Ages 12 and older

THE RUNTHROUGH:

For the EFL / ESL classroom, Wits and Wagers is an excellent fit.  At it’s heart, it’s a party trivia game where knowing the right answer isn’t as important as knowing who in the room is most likely to know the answer.  Straight out of the box, there will be giggles galore when you bring this one to class.

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Snake Oil

This time next year, we’ll be millionaires.

PRACTICE:

  • relative clauses (describing)
  • pronunciation of compound nouns
  • linking ideas
  • clauses of contrast
  • negative inversion for emphasis
  • making a convincing pitch

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Advanced and up (CEFR C1-C2)
  • Upper secondary and older (ages 15 years plus)

THE RUNTHROUGH:

Snake Oil is a party game where the players create a products to pitch to prospective buyers.  The game is a lot of fun and it is extremely rich linguistically.

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Once Upon a Time

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin …

PRACTICE:

  • narrative tenses (past progressive, past perfect simple/progressive)
  • storytelling
  • vocabulary (fairy tales and folk tales)

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Upper-Intermediate and higher (CEFR B2-C2)
  • 15-17 (Can work with students aged 18+, but only if they are a light-hearted bunch)

THE RUNTHROUGH:

Once Upon a Time has a long tradition in education, both mainstream and EFL.  So much in fact, that I almost feel a bit cheeky writing about it, to be honest.  I only decided to write about it as it seems to have criminally fallen off people’s radar in recent years.

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Apples to Apples

How d’you like them apples?
Quite a lot actually.

PRACTICE:

  • vocabulary (general + most idioms)
  • persuading
  • explaining
  • describing

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Level (CEFR B2-C2)
  • Ages 12 and older

THE RUNTHROUGH:

Apples to Apples is one of the classics.  From what I hear, it’s been quite popular in the US as a family game for some time, but it’s only recently popped onto my radar.  It is a fantastically versatile game and is a great way of engaging students to practice lots of different kinds of vocabulary.  From the original adjective version, all the way to idioms.

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Sheriff of Nottingham

Ducking and diving, wheeling and dealing, bribery and lies.  What could go wrong?

PRACTICE:

  • negotiating, bartering and haggling
  • agreeing and disagreeing
  • real conditionals (making suggestions)
  • hesitating

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Upper-Intermediate learners and up (CEFR B2-C2)
  • Ages 15+

THE RUNTHROUGH:

Sheriff of Nottingham is one of the few games which works just fine straight out of the box.  If you’ve never heard of or played Sheriff of Nottingham (SoN), then you should definitely try it twice.  Why twice?  Because you’ll learn so much about the game the first play through, that it’d be a shame not to play it again.

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FunEmployed

Help Wanted.

PRACTICE:

  • clauses of purpose
  • linking and organising ideas
  • negative inversion for emphasis
  • cleft sentences
  • UPDATED: gerunds and infinitives

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Higher levels (CEFR C1-C2)
  • Ages 15+

THE RUNTHROUGH:

Funemployed sells itself as a satirical party game.  It is not wrong. It’s a lot of fun both in the classroom and over a few drinks with some less prudish friends.  Players need to be able to both think on their feet and spin a good yarn.  In short, this is a game for bullsh*tters.  With the right group, FunEmployed is absolutely splendid.

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Man Bites Dog

No animals were harmed in the typing of this post.

PRACTICE:

  • passive forms
  • vocabulary (the kind of slang you see in tabloids)
  • sentence structure and word order
  • narrative tenses
  • sensitivity to formal and informal register

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Advanced to Proficiency (CEFR C1-C2)
  • Ages 12+

THE RUNTHROUGH:

Tabloids are fascinating.  It’s extremely interesting how most are specifically written in order to be easily understood by the average native speaker, while at the same time remaining almost completely incomprehensible to most high-level learners.

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Mysterium / Tajemnicze Domostwo

Tormented spirits, psychedelic dreams and a murder most foul.

Is it nearly Halloween already?

PRACTICE:

  • present speculation
  • describing abstract images
  • comparing and contrasting
  • hedging (sounding less certain)
  • agreeing and disagreeing

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Advanced learners and higher (CEFR C1-C2)
  • Ages 15+

THE RUNTHROUGH:

I’m not going to spend much time explaining how this game is supposed to be played.  There a two reasons for this: firstly, I’ve completely lost track of the differences between how the Polish Tajemnicze Domostwo, English-language Mysterium and the original Ukranian Містеріум should be played.  It’s all terribly confusing.  To top it all off, the components have French on them.

I’ll just tell you how I use it, shall I?

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Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

There has been a murder.  Someone in the room did it and they didn’t do it without help.  The possibilities are many, but can the wonders of forensic science help the investigators solve the crime?  And can the witness live long enough to testify?  Erm … maybe.

PRACTICE:

  • comparing and contrasting
  • vocabulary (common, everyday items.  Oh, and numerous causes of death)
  • present speculation
  • making accusations
  • agreeing and disagreeing
  • making a persuasive argument
  • passive for emphasising an action when the actor is unknown
  • giving a brief narrative

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Upper-Intermediate learners and higher (CEFR B2-C2)
  • Ages 15+

THE RUNTHROUGH:

I’ve played this a few times with different aged students and the younger ones always seem to like it the most.  It’s really good at forcing students to use language of speculation and with a little effort, passive and narrative tenses too.  I made quite a few little classroom-friendly tweaks to the gameplay, so this section is a bit longer than some of the other games I’ve written about.  Power through!

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