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Simple activities with a text for lower levels

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This is a collection of ideas one can do with a text to improve students’ reading skills. And perhaps not only the reading skills. I was trying to do the activities when I thought we had exploited the text in every possible way “dictated” by the coursebook and the students ( weak A2 level) still had problems with it.

  • Actually there were three shorter sections to read, so I grouped the students so that each group was focusing on one particular text. The reading was written in the Simple Present tense first person singular, so the students first had to read it out in third person singular, taking turns to read out the individual sentences.
  • The question words were listed on the board, together with a general revision of word order in questions in the Simple Present tense. Students were now forming questions with those question wors, write them down and finally had to ask and answer those questions.
  • Key words of the three sections were put on cards. The students took a card from the pile placed face down on the desk and they had to define, explain the words to each other: the rest of the group guessed the words.
  • On a different lesson the questions were on slips placed face down on the desk, students took turns to look at a question on slips and answer them. Then placed the questions face up on the desk and simply by looking at the questions tried to retell the story the questions were based upon. Finally the questions were taken away and students had to remember the text they have worked with.
  • One member from the group reads out the text deliberately making factual mistakes. For example if the text says: “I live in Turkey”, the student could say “I live in Norway” – the other students in the group have to listen carefully, and if they spot a mistake, say “Stop!” and correct the mistake. The reader then carries on with the text.
  • As the tasks are very often based on cards, when the groups are ready with one particular series of tasks with a pack of cards or slips, they rotate, i.e. they stand up and move over to a desk, where they find hte cards of the other text(s).
  • Sentences from the texts were taken and cut up into words. The students were in pairs and they had to reorder the cards to make meaningful sentences. When they were ready, I quickly checked the sentences. If they were correct, they could mix/shuffle the word cards, and leave it on the desk, while they were walking to the next desk where another sentence was waiting for them to reorder (previously reordered then mixed up by their peers). With this technique, students move around the classroom, concentrate on the correct order of words, meaning of words, collaborate, and revise the story of simple reading texts.
  • Students took a word – anything they liked. They wrote a sentence demonstrating the meaning of the word, but leaving the word itself out – thus producing a gapped sentence. They fixed the papers with their sentences on the walls of the classroom. The sentences were numbered. The students walked around the classroom and tried to guess the missing words of each of the sentences, by taking note of hte number of the sentence and the word they thought fitted the sentence.
  • Pictures were placed around the classroom walls. Students had to associate the words with one or more of the pictures and explain their choices.
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Verb patterns – a board game

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board game 07

Verb patterns at upper-intermediate level – well, that is even more challenging than teaching it at lower levels. I posted some days ago a pre-intermediate task or rather a cooperative drill that proved to be useful and interesting for my students. Now I would like to describe a board game that made the students in my class experience such a flow that they were surprised and sorry when the lesson ended.

There had already been a lesson presenting the different verb pattern structures (verb + –ing form, verb + infinitive, verb + object + infinitive, verb + object + base form, verb + object + past participle) and some practice tasks. We also did some drilling following the example of the activity that I described in my previous post on verb patterns.

Preparation

To prepare the board game I used the cards from the drilling task. It means that the verbs that are followed by the different structures were printed on different coloured paper cards and cut out. The students were in 4 groups, each group received one set of cards, dice and counters. The board was the students’ desk. They had to shuffle the coloured cards and place them face down in a way that they form the squares of a board game from ’start’ to ’finish’.
The game
The students then rolled the dice, moved the counters according to the number and turned up the card they landed on. The task was to give a grammatically correct sentence with the verb on the card turned up. If somebody landed on a card that had already been turned up, that card had to be placed at the end, i.e. before the ’finish’ – thus it became the last ’square’ of the board. The card then was replaced by one new verb card that each group received in a separate pack.
Conclusion
Although playing the game like that was a kind of „never ending story, the students enjoyed it a lot! And in fact it was only a „make a sentence with the different verbs” type of task, still, as a board game it was motivating and fun!