Skip to main content

Guessing games

One of the best things to come out of the communicative movement in language teaching was the notion of the "information gap". Give pupils a reason to communicate and they will, the theory goes. So if you design a task for pairs where one person has information the other needs to find out, you should get communication. The best books to exploit this idea in French were the Tu Parles and Tu Parles Encore by Vee Harris and Liz Roselman. Alas they are no longer in print, but should be slightly updated and reprinted.

A really simple way to set up minimal preparation information gap tasks is to do guessing games. We know how much children of all ages like these - just think how much mileage you can get out of "guess the flashcard" routines and "battleships". Here are five reinforcing/revision guessing games for pairs.

1.  Weekend dernier

For low intermediates. Get each partner to write down five invented activities they did over the last weekend. Each partner has to guess what the other person did by asking yes/no questions. Encourage students to come up with original or wacky ideas. Good for practising the perfect tense.

2.  Liste d'achats

For near beginners. Each person writes down a list of ten items they are going to buy at the supermarket. Each partner has to guess the other's list.

3.  "Dumb customer"

Any level. Again, based on a shopping list or just a list of words. Each partner has a list and has to explain what is on their list by using gesture, no words. Good for revising vocabulary at various levels.

4.  Projets de vacances

Intermediate. Each partner lists ten things they are going to do during the next holiday. Partners use yes/no questions to work out the other person's list. Good for future or immediate future tense.

5. Proverbes

Advanced. Display, in two columns, a list of, say, 16 proverbs or sayings in the target language on the board. Alternatively provide a handout with the proverbs written in two columns. Make sure students understand them, preferably by explaining them in the TL. You could translate them if you want to get on to the pair work quickly. The advantage of using the TL is that students already hear a model of how to explain the sayings.

Then, each partner chooses five proverbs or sayings which they attempt to exemplify or explain whilst the the person tries to guess what they are. Partners could prompt each other for further information. Good for general creative use of language at a higher level.


You could easily come up with other guessing games. They are great for filling in some time, plenaries or revision. They often give useful practice of question forms too.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The latest research on teaching vocabulary

I've been dipping into The Routledge Handbook of Instructed Second Language Acquisition (2017) edited by Loewen and Sato. This blog is a succinct summary of Chapter 16 by Beatriz González-Fernández and Norbert Schmitt on the topic of teaching vocabulary. I hope you find it useful.

1.  Background

The authors begin by outlining the clear importance of vocabulary knowledge in language acquisition, stating that it's a key predictor of overall language proficiency (e.g. Alderson, 2007). Students often say that their lack of vocabulary is the main reason for their difficulty understanding and using the language (e.g. Nation, 2012). Historically vocabulary has been neglected when compared to grammar, notably in the grammar-translation and audio-lingual traditions as well as  communicative language teaching.

(My note: this is also true, to an extent, of the oral-situational approach which I was trained in where most vocabulary is learned incidentally as part of question-answer sequence…

A zero preparation fluency game

I am grateful to Kayleigh Meyrick, a teacher in Sheffield, for this game which she described in the Languages Today magazine (January, 2018). She called it “Swap It/Add It” and it’s dead simple! I’ve added my own little twist as well as a justification for the activity.

You could use this at almost any level, even advanced level where the language could get a good deal more sophisticated.

Put students into small groups or pairs. If in groups you can have them stand in circles to add a sense of occasion. One student utters a sentence, e.g. “J’aime jouer au foot avec mes copains parce que c’est amusant.” (You could provide the starter sentence or let groups make up their own.) The next student (or partner) has to change one element in the sentence, and so on, until you restart with a different sentence. You could give a time limit of, say, 2 minutes. The sentence could easily relate to the topic you are working on. At advanced level a suitable sentence starter might be:

“Selon un article q…

Google Translate beaters

Google Translate is a really useful tool, but some teachers say that they have stopped setting written work to be done at home because students are cheating by using it. On a number of occasions I have seen teachers asking what tasks can be set which make the use of Google Translate hard or impossible. Having given this some thought I have come up with one possible Google Translate-beating task type. It's a two way gapped translation exercise where students have to complete gaps in two parallel texts, one in French, one in English. There are no complete sentences which can be copied and pasted into Google.

This is what one looks like. Remember to hand out both texts at the same time.


English 

_____. My name is David. _ __ 15 years old and I live in Ripon, a _____ ____ in the north of _______, near York. I have two _______ and one brother. My brother __ ______ David and my _______ are called Erika and Claire. We live in a _____ house in the centre of ____. In ___ house _____ …

Dissecting a lesson: using a set of PowerPoint slides

I was prompted to write this just having produced for frenchteacher.net three separate PowerPoint presentations using the same set of 20 pictures (sports). A very good way for you to save time is to reuse the same resource in a number of different ways.

I chose 20 clear, simple, clear and copyright-free images from pixabay.com to produce three presentations on present tense (beginners), near future (post beginner) and perfect tense (post-beginner/low intermediate). Here is one of them:





Below is how I would have taught using this presentation - it won't be everyone's cup of tea, especially of you are not big on choral repetition and PPP (Presentation-Practice-Production), but I'll justify my choice in the plan at each stage. For some readers this will be standard practice.

1. Explain in English that you are going to teach the class how to talk about and understand people talking about sport. By the end of the lesson they will be able to say and understand 20 different sport…

Two ways to build in recycling: Intensive input-output work and narrow reading

We know repetition is vital for acquisition so we need to work it into lesson planning. There are various ways to do this when reading and listening. “Narrow reading” and “narrow listening” are useful, for example. Stephen Krashen first coined these terms and suggested that exposing students to a series of similar spoken or written sources of input was an effective way to promote acquisition. (His version was much less structured than what will be described below.) Text books often include a series of paragraphs featuring some vocabulary or structures in common to ensure repetition. Gianfranco Conti has turned this into a fine art with highly patterned sets of paragraphs including large amounts of repetition. We adopted this technique for our TES GCSE French units of work. Here are four French paragraphs where you see the technique in use. Repeated chunks are shown in bold.