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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 que j’ai lu les Français, surtout les jeunes, font de plus en plus d’achats en ligne.”

Variations might include:

“D’après un article/selon une vidéoclip/surtout les personnes âgées/en particulier les jeunes/les 16-24 ans/d’achats sur internet/de shopping en ligne/depuis leur ordinateur.”

(Note the relevance here to the summary task set in A-level exams.)

An alternative to the above which Kayleigh describes is to begin with one word, then each person in the sequence or partner has to add another element (word or chunk) to the sentence. The sequence might go like this:

à mon école
à mon école il y a
à mon école à Leeds il y a
à mon école à Leeds il n’y a pas
à mon école primaire à Leeds il n’y a pas d’éléphants” etc

These games are super for a number of reasons:

1. They involve multiple repetitions of words and chunks.
2. They allow for some creativity, humour and spontaneity.
3. They take no time for the teacher to prepare.
4. They allow each student to contribute to their ability - some will produce more complex substitutions or additions than others.
5. They can usefully revise language previously presented and practised.
6.They encourage prediction and collocation skills, useful for speaking, listening and writing. (Think of how Google searches work - you enter a word and the next most common word or words appear from previous searches.)
7. With advanced level students the game requires some long chunks to be held in memory then produced fluently -you could allow others in the group to provide prompts to help things along. This will be fruitful in subsequent oral assessments, no doubt.
8.The game requires no use of L1.

If you wanted to build a lesson plan around these games why not, as a second stage, get students to write down from memory resulting sentences and share them with the class? If you do this you may be wise to tell the class in advance that this is what they will do - this may focus minds even more.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Addendum Via Elaine Kelly on Facebook “How about a new twist : I have done this before and it works really well with all boys or very competitive students. Give them surprise word cards from the teacher that they must include in the sentence.“


  1. Love this! Easily adaptable to different levels, themes, and grammar structures.

  2. Hi Steve- Love this idea and wanted to quickly share a game that I have used over the years. If you remember the color coded game "MasterMind" - you will quickly catch on. Rather than colors, I use parts of a sentence. Students choose one part from each column as a guess. I then give them the number of parts correct out of 4....I call it "La Phrase Secrete "- :) For example
    A B C D
    Je va partir la semaine prochaine
    Nous vais nager demain
    Il allons patiner apres l'ecole

    It's a great game to point out the importance of agreements and can be varied in many different ways.


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