Grammar Games: Cognitive, Affective and Drama Activities for EFL Students
To teachers of languages other than English
I happen to be a teacher of English and so this book is aimed initially at teachers of English and works on English structures. The exercises and games could act as adequate frames for the teaching of any grammar under the sun. If you want to use the games in this book for
teaching your language you will find them extremely easy to adapt. Good luck!
What’s in the book?
Section 1 presents traditional games like ‘Noughts and crosses’, ‘Snap’, `Monopoly’ and ‘Snakes and ladders’, modified to allow students to work in small groups and show themselves and you how much or how little grammar they know. Less traditional game frames in this section include ‘Auction’, `Double or quits’ and ‘The money game’.
I use the word ‘game frame’ because, though each game in this section is offered as working on a particular grammar area you can fill each frame with whatever grammar content you want. The particular grammar content proposed in the section is only there by way of exemplification. This section has the students working cognitively on grammar: they are
asked to think consciously about what is correct and what is incorrect. Section II is a collection of Silent Way, or Silent Way inspired exercises in which students build sentences and paragraphs in warm cooperation with each other rather than in competition. Your role is to give silent feedback to individuals and to the class, but only when absolutely necessary. 11.14, ‘With your back to the class’, has you sitting with your back to the class giving
them four signals, two with your head and two with your hands! Work from this section will allow you to enjoy being productively quiet in the group while observing the students in full activity. The average teacher in Europe today notches up a score of about 60-70% teacher-talking time in his or her classes. Just 35% or less is left to the students! The exercises in Section II could bring your teacher-talking time down to less than 5% of the overall exercise time. Section III moves right away from cognitive work on grammar. In these
exercises, the students are asked to write and say things about themselves and people who are significant to them within a set of structures prescribed by the teacher. The students’ focus is on what they are saying not on the form they are using. They control the content, you control the structures. These exercises have the students practise given grammar points while thinking and feeling about human relationships. If you find this work relevant to the way you teach you will find more activities of this sort in Grammar in action, C. Frank and M. Rinvolucri (Pergamon, 1983). Section IV, Grammar through drama, has the students off their chairs practising grammar through movement, shouting, and writing on each others’ backs. Excellent for jaded classes or for groups with lots of unspent energy that needs to be channelled. Section V is a rag-bag of useful grammar-practising activities which I find it
hard to classify properly.
Each exercise is proposed for a given level ranging from beginner to advanced. This refers simply to the grammar content of that particular activity. By changing the grammar content you can, in many cases, use the game or exercise frame offered at a higher or lower level. If you look at 1.6 you will see that the level stated is intermediate and the grammar worked on present perfect + for/since. The game proposed in 1.6 is ‘Snakes and ladders’. By putting appropriate sentences of your own choice on the boards the students play on, you could use the game at post-beginner or advanced level.
Choice of structures
If you glance through the table of contents you will notice that a great many of the exercises work on the present simple and past simple. In most course books these two tenses are given the same amount of space as less used tenses like the past perfect, past continuous and present continuous. In some textbooks more time and effort is budgeted for the present continuous than for the present simple, despite the fact that the latter is used about eight
times more frequently in English than the former. I decided to give more exercise space to the most frequent tenses in the English verb system. If you think I am wrong, all you have to do is delete these two tenses from the exercises they occur in and fill the frames with the structures you want to work on with your students.