1 set of word cards per small group; Question List (from p.117) for each group.
T prepares the target vocabulary words – one set for each small group. Each word should be on an individual small piece of card or paper. The vocabulary could be:
- words suggested by SS – as in Mode 1
- keywords from a text – as in Mode 2
- words from a particular vocabulary set – as in Mode 3
1. T gives out a set of cards to each group and asks them to put all the cards out on the table so that everybody can see them all. Then SS put them into two groups – words they know and words they do not know.
2. T asks SS to shout out words they do not know. Other SS in other groups help by giving definitions or translations. T reminds SS to use dictionaries and write down the new words.
3. T asks SS to put the words into alphabetical order. This helps them to remember words they have just learned, because they are focusing on them again. T asks SS from different groups to read out part of their list. T writes incorrectly pronounced words on the board and draws SS’s attention to them. T drills the words with the SS from A-Z. T says each word once, then the whole group repeats it. The following activities are based around the 50 questions on either of the Big Word Game Question Lists. T could use the Mixed Question List (p.117) to practise a range of skills, or the Categories List (p.118) to focus on particular problem areas.
Competitive Game #1: Question Cards – Pairs
Students work in pairs, but the same procedure would also work with small groups. A set of 40 discussion words (or your chosen vocabulary words) is spread out on the table in front of them, so that they can both see all of the words. They also have a copy of the Mixed Question List. SS should use the first 40 questions for competitive games, and all 50 cards (including the last ten in blue type) for non-competitive activities. Each player has 20 tokens – or coins – which they will use to ‘buy’ questions during the game. (For a shorter game, they could have fewer tokens each, and for a longer game, more.)
How to play:
Player A chooses a discussion word, but does not touch it or say what it is. Player B then ‘buys’ a question by giving one token to their opponent. Player B reads out the question. Player A has to answer truthfully about the word that they have chosen. Player B then tries to guess the word. To have a guess costs one token. If Player B cannot guess the word, they can buy another question for one token. This continues until they guess the word, or ‘give up’ and Player A reveals the word. To ‘give up’ costs two tokens. After this, the roles are reversed and Player B chooses a word, whilst Player A has to buy questions and guesses.
The game ends when one player has used up all of their tokens. The winner is the player who still has tokens. Therefore, the winner is the person who buys the least questions and guesses. Variation: you could agree a set time for the game – e.g. 15 minutes – and when the time has finished, the winner is the player with the most tokens left.
Both students are working with the vocabulary words and thinking about a wide range of topics and techniques connected with word focus.
Competitive Game #2: Question List – Whole Class
This game is played by the whole class, or a large group of people.
How to play:
A volunteer is chosen from the group, who chooses one of the 40 discussion words (without revealing it) as well as a number from 1-40. The teacher reads out a question from the question list. The volunteer answers the question and the whole group have to look at the 40 words and find the answer. This continues, with each volunteer choosing three or four words, before the next student is picked. This could be used as a fun warmer at the beginning of a lesson, or as a short time-filler, or a wind-down, at the end of a lesson. It could be made more competitive by dividing the class into teams and giving points to each team when they correctly identify the word – not to mention offering prizes for the winning team.
The first team to 10 / 20 / 30 etc. wins. Or, the team with the most points at the end of a set period wins.
It’s a fun and noisy group activity that everybody can play. Students will explore a variety of word focus themes from You Are The Course Book Method, as well as continue to focus on the discussion words from the lesson or topic that they happen to be studying at that time.
Non-Competitive Activity #1: Analyse a Set of Words
Students could work in pairs, in small groups, one to one with the teacher or as a whole class with the teacher. This activity uses all 50 questions on either question list.
Students simply analyse a specific group of words. The words could be part of a vocabulary set, a complete set of 40 discussion words, or words that the students (or the teacher) have chosen to look at, e.g. a set of eight specific discussion words. Perhaps they could be words that the group has had the most problems with in terms of pronunciation or spelling during the lesson. Students select a word from the word set and a question from one of the question lists – either at random or from a group of questions that they (or the teacher) have specifically chosen to study. The teacher may set a time limit for this activity, and the focus should be on speaking aloud, via discussion of the words and the questions, although students may wish to
write a few notes.
Non-Competitive Activity #2: Analyse a Single Word
This is a great way to introduce the tasks on the question lists, and to fix any problems that students may have in understanding how to approach them. Students could work in pairs, in small groups, one to one with the teacher or as a whole class with the teacher. This activity uses all 50 questions on either question list.
This time, students analyse any word from the set of 40 discussion words (or any individual word that they or the teacher has chosen). For example, from the ‘Films’ discussion words, they might choose (or randomly select) the word ‘blockbuster’. Students go through as many questions as they want – or as time allows – and answer each one using the same word: ‘blockbuster’. Again, the teacher may set a time limit for this activity, or even set it for homework. The focus should be on speaking aloud during this activity, via discussion of the words and the questions, although students may want to write down some of their
- T may need to pre-teach some of the language concepts in the question list before running this activity, e.g. consonant clusters, vowel sounds, silent letters, countable nouns, etc.
- A much simpler way to use either of the question lists would be to give each group of SS a copy, along with the discussion words, and ask them to spend a short time analysing different words using various questions from the list. T monitors, checks, and corrects.
- See Talk a Lot Elementary Handbook (from p.5.9) for further teacher’s notes and sample answers for this activity.