Monday 31 October 2011

"Time bomb" search game - TESL game

So, I came up with this game the other day when trying to think of a game to spice up a lesson on "Health problems". But I can see that this game could work well for those lessons that have a lot of vocabulary (which was the challenge I had at the time). This is only an activity, a part of the class, and is geared to getting the students speaking to each other. It would be good at the practice stage of a communicative lesson plan.
So let me explain how it goes.

Time: ~15-20 mins.
Class size: variable (Depending on how much vocabulary you use. You can double up on words too).

  • A loud stop watch (it is best if the students can hear it).
  • a set of vocabulary that you want to teach on cards (ensure there is enough cards for about half of the class).
Aim: Get the students practicing the vocabulary, grammar, and/or phrases you have just taught them, and have fun.

How the games works:
I will use the "health problem" theme to describe this, but you can obviously change it.
Split the class into 2 groups. One will be the patients, and the other the nurses. The teacher(s) will be the doctors. Give the "patients" each a card. The card they receive will have a symptom on it, e.g., diarrhea, fever, stomachache, etc. The "nurses" job is to find the patient that the "doctor" describes before the time runs out on the stop-watch. To find the patient the students in the nurse role must use the English phrase that you have just taught them. 
For example, A: "You don't look good, are you alright?", 
B:"No, I have a stomachache", etc. 
Play around with the complexity of the conversation. If they cannot find the patient(s) in time then the patients will die. You can set the time on a stopwatch. Play around with the times, but make it challenging. Each time the students find the patient or run out of time tell them the new symptom and start the stop-watch again. Keep going until all the patients are dead or saved.
A good way to modify this game is to give some of the patients a card like "infectious". If they have this card the nurse that interrogates them "dies". You can also turn it into a competitive score keeping game by doing this.
Another quick note, you might want to say that they become severely sick or hospitalized instead of "dead". Something different just to be sensitive. But, as I said, this is only one theme. You could use this style of game for many themes, phrases and grammar structures. It is pretty much an information-gap style game. 

Make sure that before you play this game that you have introduced the vocabulary, grammar, and phrases that you want to teach. Spend sometime making sure they understand how to use the language you want to teach and then play the game. 

I've attached here the vocabulary cards that I used for my game.

Let me know if it worked for you! 

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