Tag Archives: ESOL

Inside Job

What all vocabulary games need: a good dose of subterfuge

Most teachers would agree that regular review is a super important part of learning vocabulary.  Either as a warmer or an end-of-lesson filler, these games are useful tools to have in your TEFL arsenal.  This one is also a lot of fun, has just the right amount of competition, and is nicely interactive.

PRACTICE:

  • vocabulary review
  • present speculation
  • critical thinking

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Level (CEFR B1-C2)
  • Ages 12 yrs. and older

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Pathetic Excuses

Talk about practical life-skills …

PRACTICE:

  • future in the past
  • making excuses

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Level (CEFR C1-C2)
  • Ages 15 yrs and up

THE RUNTHROUGH:

When we talk about developing our students’ language skills, as ESL / EFL teachers we often neglect that most valuable of skills: making excuses for the things that we were supposed to do, but didn’t.  The remedy?  Pathetic Excuses: The Card Game.

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Worst. Holiday. Ever.

Well, what happened was …

PRACTICE:

  • cleft sentences
  • being emphatic
  • narrative tenses
  • anecdotes

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Level (CEFR B2-C2)
  • Ages 15 yrs and older

THE RUNTHROUGH:

If you’re looking for a fun activity that gets students to practice some past tenses and cleft sentences, then look no further.  Print out and get cracking.

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Affixominoes

Affix Dominoes!

PRACTICE:

  • word building (prefixes and suffixes for nouns)

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • High upper-intermediate and stronger(CEFR B2-C2)
  • Ages 12 yrs and older

THE RUNTHROUGH:

One of the most useful skills that ESL / EFL students take away from the Cambridge main-suite exams (FCE, CAE and CPE) is word building.  I’ve always found students struggle with these tasks and practicing always seemed like a bit of a chore.  That’s why I decided to gamify it a bit.  Word building + game = Affixominoes!

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The Moth

Review writing, reimagined.

PRACTICE:

  • intensive listening and encouraging self-study
  • describing the emotional effect a story has
  • narrative tenses
  • writing a review
  • practice for Cambridge: Advanced (CAE) Reading and Use of English Pt. 2

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Level (CEFR C1-C2)
  • Ages 15+

THE RUNTHROUGH:

I teach a lot of high-level EFL / ESL classes:  some older, some younger.  A lot of exams, such as Cambridge: Advanced (CAE) offer ‘the review’ as an option for a writing task.  Having asked students to write reviews of films and restaurants for years, I decided it was time for a change.  Happily, this decision coincided with The Moth podcast coming into my life.

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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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