English #Outdoors Vol.2

**original picture source: http://www.resourcesgraphics.com/

 Some of my favourite classic word games with a bit of a twist for extra fun:

-‘Word Chain’
Age: 8+
Estimated time: 15 minutes
Players: 3+

A nice game to practise vocabulary.
Decide on the order of players. The first player continues after the last.
The first player says a word, for example ”dog”.
The next player has to say a word beginning with the last letter of the previous word- in this case ”g”. If the second player says ”grass”, the third player will have to say a word that begins with ”s” and so on.
Any word can be used and in any form; nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, etc.
If a word is repeated, the player who said it misses one round. Players are allowed three mistakes, after which they leave the game.
-As the game could take up a lot of time, it’s a good idea to decide when it should end, by setting a score board and awarding points for each word used correctly. I usually set the winning score at 20 points for young learners and 50 points for intermediate ones.
*Fun trivia: Words beginning with ”y” have proved quite challenging!

-”Sentence Surprise”
Age: 8+
Estimated time: 15 minutes
Players: 4+

A fun game to review structure and vocabulary.
Divide players in four groups, the ”Who?”, the ”What”, the ”Where” and the ”How”. Give each group a paper and a pencil and ask them to write relevant words one under the other. When they finish, a representative from each group has to come forward and stand in the correct position in order to form a sentence. Prepare for a lot of laughter, as sentences are usually something like ”An iguana hops quietly under the bed”! Do the same for all the words the players have come up with.
If you have more time on your hands, try playing more rounds and mixing up the groups so all players have been in all groups at least once.

Age: 8+
Estimated time: 10 minutes
Players: 2+

A quick game to build and review vocabulary.
One player says a word that has an opposite, for example ”day”.
The other players have to reply with its opposite, in this case ”night”. The first player to find the correct answer continues with a new word.
If, at any moment during the game, a player says a word that hasn’t got an opposite, e.g. ”pencil”, the first of the other players to realise it begins a new round.

**The ”Opposites” game is from a wonderful book I discovered about nine years ago, ”El gran libro de los juegos” (1998, Parramon Ediciones S.A.) which is full of amazing games and activities – not sure if there is an English version, though.

English #Outdoors Vol.1

It’s July! “Kalo Mina” as we say down here and a great start to a magnificent summer period!

**original picture source: http://www.resourcesgraphics.com/

Learning happens anytime, anywhere and, weather permitting, outside the classroom is the best place to start! I’ve been working in English learning summer camps for the past seven years and thought I’d share some of the funnest activities I’ve done with my students.
You might think they’re meant for large groups of young learners, but no. We’ve had the most fun trying them out with my colleagues; just the four of us, the young-at-heart teachers!

In this first post I’ve included three quick activities which serve as great ice-breakers and help teachers and students know each other better, remember names and choose leaders and team members.

“But, why are you?”
Age: 7+
Estimated Time: 10 minutes
Players: 7 or more

A fun game to get to know everyone in your class or team, while reviewing vocabulary on emotions. Everyone chooses an emotion. The coordinator helps anyone who struggles and ensures there are no repeats. Create a board (an A3 paper and a marker would do) with all the names and the emotion they’ve chosen under each. After the board is ready, give everyone five minutes to look at it and note names and emotions. Everyone then sits in a circle on the ground and when the coordinator gives the signal (best to set and explain what the signal will be before you start, especially if you have a group of young learners only) each player has to turn to the person on their  right and ask them the following: “But [name], why are you [emotion]?”. If they get the name and emotion right, both players leave the circle until everyone has had their turn. If they get one or both wrong, the other player has to ask them the same question. The game continues until all players have been asked the question.

*Make this more challenging by having players mimic the emotion they’ve chosen while they wait to be asked the question.

-“All aboard!”
Age: 7+
Estimated time: 10 minutes
Players: 7 or more

Learn and remember everyone’s name with this energetic game!
Draw the outline of a boat on the ground, jump in and inform everyone you’re the captain. Players shout their name twice and then stand around the “boat” waiting for orders. The captain starts with any player, saying “Sailor [name], on deck!”. That player has to jump in the “boat” and the captain asks “Sailor [name], are we all here?”. While the answer is no, the captain has to repeat the initial order for all names. When all “sailors” are gathered, the captain shouts “All aboard!” and further activities can begin.

-“Blind date”
Age: 7+
Estimated time: 2 minutes
Players: 7 or more

An easy activity to instantly create two random teams.
Draw two lines on the ground or use two ribbons, e.g. red and blue. The coordinator stands with their eyes shut while all players go around and touch them on their back. Every time someone touches them, the coordinator shouts red or blue and each player goes to  stand on either side, until everyone is in a team. Done!

Feel free to use them and send me feedback!

Next post coming up, with word games and observation skills activities.

**original picture source: http://www.resourcesgraphics.com/

“TheArtofEnglish”- practicing English creatively!

“TheArtofEnglish” came about three years ago, when I noticed some of my A2 students drawing out a dialogue we had practised in class.  It was one of the funniest cart00n-like set of pictures I’d seen, as they had added extra details to the story to make it more familiar to their own reality.

Being a huge fan of crafts, I suggested creating a workgroup in which they could express themselves creatively while using English to communicate; a suggestion met with more enthusiasm than I could ever hope for! It would be fair to say they went mad for the idea and started promoting it to everyone – in the end, 15 students at different levels, ranging from A2 through B1, decided that such a workgroup would be brilliant and wanted to begin straight away.

We had some difficulties at first, but about a month in the course A2 students became more confident in using English with higher level schoolmates and always helped each other understand what the conversation was about and what they had to do. The group chose to work on  subjects connected to the students’ relevant courses; an interesting dialogue or story would jump from the classroom onto drawing paper and a game we’d played in class would become an actual board game.
They worked together perfectly; higher level students asked around for suggestions or came up with new ideas if there weren’t any from their younger schoolmates and then planned the course of action – they set a time schedule and deadlines, they divided the worgroup in smaller teams, who were each responsible for a different task, arranged meetings in times convenient for all members so as to monitor and review progress and then proudly presented the results in classs.

It’s obvious that there wasn’t – and isn’t – much teacher involvement – the only “rule” I set was that all communication had to be in English. The most important factors that led to this decision were that students rarely get the chance to practise what they learn outside the language school and my belief that teaching is actually learning. When a B1 student corrects the grammar use of an A2 one, it’s a memorable experience for both.
There was of course a lot of background work in this group for the teachers. With a colleague, we monitored what went on during their meetings, helped out with vocabulary if necessary (although we’d noticed that group members were quite as pleased to use dictionaries as asking us for an expression) and kept records of what had been done and how during a project – all of which went into our progress reports.

Creating and sustaining such a workgroup was certainly no easy task; its progress depended a lot on student engagement and there have been times when no meetings were held and no creative projects were started, but never for a long period – perhaps a short interval was actually necessary in order to recharge batteries and renew interest.

Today, even though I have transfered to a new language school, the “ArtofEnglish” has followed me and is again received with interest and a strong sense of commitment by my new students – the series of posts tagged “ArtofEnglish” is dedicated to all my students (old and new) involved in the group, to show and promote their wonderful work!