Activities That Work /
G. For the Teachers

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley

Back to Table of Contents:
G. For the Teachers.
1. Blocks/Algebraic rods.
2. Bulletin boards.
3. Card games in FL.
4. Constructing activities from a contemporary book. (Example)
5. Game rules.
6. Integration of activities.
7. Learning centers.
8. Pictures (How to, what to, etc.).
9. Postcards.
10. Pro & Con of game-playing.
11. Resources.
12. Review for tests.
13. Slow but nice students.
14. Types (Lists) of activities. (Lots of ideas here!)
15. World Wide Web / Internet
16. Miscellaneous.

1. Blocks/Algebraic rods.

97/07 From-> Marilyn Dryden <>
Subject: Re: Algebraic blocks for FL

Beverly: I teach high school Spanish and have had lots of fun and good
communication with this activity. Students work in pairs. Place an
upright file folder between them. Each student gets a handful of the
rods. Student one makes a pattern of them and explains in the target
language how to make the pattern. Student two tries to make the pattern
from the instructions he receives. When complete they remove the folder
and compare the two! Marilyn

On Wed, 2 Jul 1997, Beverly Maass wrote:

>Has anyone heard of using algebraic blocks (from the math dept) for
>conversation activities in the classroom, and if so, how do you use them?
>My daughter, who just graduated from college, will begin teaching a 4th
>grade in the fall, and she has to include Spanish as part of her curriculum.
>She wants to practice Spanish with me this summer. A retired Spanish
>teacher told me about algebraic blocks and suggested that my daughter
>and I use them for conversation. I have the blocks but was looking for some


97/07 From-> Prawet Jantharat <>
Subject: Re: Algebraic blocks for FL

I have been using it since 1975 and it works fine. However, there is no
set way to use them blocks. The teacher will need a lot of imagination.
I will be happy to share with you and your daughter the ideas.

Prawet Jantharat
Language Training Supervisor
Foreign Service Institute

2. Bulletin boards.

97/07 From-> Susan Shelby <>
Subject: Re: "Hello" bull bd

I use this each year with my new students...I have a bulletin board set
up with a globe in the center, and little children of all different
nationalities, holding hands around the globe. I place the "hello"s
randomly throughout the board and put the "title" up: A World of
Greetings to You!

The kids always love it, because it's so colorful. I also make it a
little "extra credit" activity. They have to guess the languages by the
3rd day, and all students submit their guesses. (I open this up to the
whole school...not just my kids.) The top 3 winners get their names
announced over the morning announcements (probably the biggest deal!)
and a little prize from me. Usually a French pen, or a little Spanish
bookmark, etc.



95/09 From -> Katherine Paxton <>
Subject: Another activity

Here's one more activity I just thought of, and HAVE to post! Credit
Gretchen LaTurner from a past language conference in Washington (state)
with the idea.

"Who am I?"

On your bulletin board each week, post a picture of a famous person from
your target language's culture.

Underneath that person, put a piece of paper. On that paper give a
one-liner clue as to the identity of that person.

Each day, add another clue until the students guess who it is. Start
with the more difficult clues.

The student(s) guess individually or in small groups, and tell you

The student(s) who guess first get extra points, or I used Culture
Credit points. I used this activity when I taught via interactive
satellite, albeit I _showed_ them a picture, rather than posting it on a
bulletin board. Once the students guessed the identity of the mystery
person, I gave them a (xeroxed) picture and a one-two page biography. On
tests, I would often have a section listing several of the names, and
instructing students to give two or three reasons as to why this person
was famous.

After I attended Gretchen LaTurner's workshop at the 1990 Washington
Conference, I started using her Culture Credit in my satellite
classroom. It was worth 25% of the students' course grade. I found that
Culture Credit allowed those students who were enthusiastic to raise
their grades.

Conversely, those who excelled in the satellite class, but didn't care
about the culture of the language studied (Russian, in my case), had
their grade lowered.

--Kathy :)

3. Card games in FL.

97/10 From-> Jan Adams <>
Subject: Go Fish instructions

I've had several requests to send out my Go Fish instructions, but my
personal and work budget won't allow for so much postage. If you are
interested in receiving a copy of the instructions, please send me a
SASE with a 32 cent stamp and I'll be happy to send them to you. My
address is attached to my signature, but if for some reason it doesn't
come through on your e-mail, let me know. Thanks for your interest!

Jan Adams


97/10 From-> "Serafa-Manschot, Emily" <>
Subject: Re: Need Game Rules

Dear Pam and Listeros,

To play "Go Fish", you deal out 6 (or is it 7?) cards to each player.
Everyone lays down their pairs. Player 1 asks any one person for a
certain type of card,

hoping to get a match; for example, "Joe, do you have any sixes?" If Joe
has a six, he must give it to Player 1. Player 1 then lays
down his matching pairs and his turn continues. When Player 1 can not
get a match, then the person who does not have what Player 1needs says
"Go Fish"; Player 1 draws a card. If he gets a match his turn continues;
if not Player 2 gets his turn. The person who is out of cards first
wins. (Boym that was really hard to explain on e- mail!)

As for "le loup" and "il est midi" we used to play a game called, "What
time is it, Mr. Fox?" Mr. Fox would face in one direction so he could
not see the other players. All other players would line up behind Mr.
Fox in a straight line.


Mr. Fox players

The players yell out "What time is it, Mr. Fox?" If Mr. Fox says"8
o'clock" the players take 8 steps. If he says "two o'clock" they take
two steps, etc. When Mr. Fox says that it's "Twelve O'clock midnight"
everyone runs back to a safe area before being tagged by Mr. Fox. The
person who Mr. Fox tags is Mr. Fox for the next round.

This really brought back memories!

Un abrazo,

Emily Serafa Manschot


97/10 From-> Jan Adams <>
Subject: Re: Go Fish

I've had several requests for the information on my Go Fish game. The
information contains pictures and examples that would be easier to share
by snail mail. If you are interested (the information is in English and
can be adapted to any language), please send me a SASE and I'll get the
two page handout to you ASAP. All the instructions for game rules and
making decks are included.

Jan Adams

4. Constructing activities from a contemporary book. (Example)

97/09 From-> Cherice Montgomery <>
Subject: Migrant workers and Amelia's Road

>The reason I have this reply on the list is because I have a question for
>you all. I found a book at which I ordered called Amelia's
>Road. It's a book for children about the life of a child of migrant workers.
>I'd really like to incorporate this into my unit, but, since it is in English
>(the copy I ordered is, anyway), I'm not quite sure how. Any suggestions?
>Should I just read it aloud? The reason I'd like to use it is because I want
>to use it to stimulate more discussion.

Megan, I knew we would see great things from you! First of all, the book
you mention IS available in Spanish with the title El camino de
Amelia--Borders Bookstore carries it here in the children's foreign
language section. If you can't find it, I can order a copy for you.

Secondly, I helped create an entire unit on migrant workers as part of
an Institute on Culture and Children's Literature of France and Mexico
which revolved around creating thematic units based on children's books.
There are some wonderful parallels which could be drawn between what you
mention with the Cajas de carton activity and the box which Amelia
buries in the story. You could use a Venn diagram perhaps to compare

It might also be fun to have students put boxes together containing
things that are important to them (as individuals, as Kansans, as
Americans) and mail them to other schools with a cover letter asking for
a return letter and box (obviously, you could ask for participants in
advance). This idea was called "Boxes from Maine" but I don't know the
name of its creator. I think students might be surprised to realize that
culture varies--even from one U.S. state to another.

What about a time capsule? My students just did a neat oral activity
(which came to me by way of Richard Ladd) in which they became
archaeologists from the year 296 and brought an common, everyday item
they had "discovered" and had to explain to us in Spanish what they
thought it had been used for using primarily the imperfect tense. The
descriptions were supposed to be imaginary. I got some wonderful things
along with some great opportunities for circumlocution--one girl brought
a baseball glove and said that it was what people from the 20th century
had used to carry their children around in, another brought goggles and
said they were a special measuring device that worked via telepathy.
When they finished, they had to write a single sentence describing what
each person's object was used for and a question they had about the
"archaeologist's" presentation of the object (i.e., how did the
measuring goggles work? Why did they carry the babies that way?) Perhaps
you could use a similar activity and have characters from each of the
stories "encounter" and try to interpret time capsules left by one of
the other characters.

Maybe they could write letters to the other characters about how their
childhood experiences as children of migrant workers had been similar or
different to the ones suggested by the items they found in the box.

This could also work as an oral activity called Table Talk (created by
Ruth and Hallie Kay Yopp). Students are told that they can invite 3
characters plus themselves to dinner. They must decide what shape the
table will be, how they will seat the characters, and must create a
dialog that might occur between the characters (all of this must be
based on what they have learned or can infer about the characters from
the text). These could be presented orally as skits or in written
"playlet" form.

Have them rewrite the story from a different character's
perspective--Amelia's parents, for example.

Use some graphic organizers to help kids make some comparisons.

Depending on the length of your unit, try putting the kids in groups and
having each one read a different children's book with the migrant worker
theme: El camino de Amelia/Amelia's Road, Don Radio/Radio Man, El canto
de las palomas/Calling the Doves, Amigos del otro lado/Friends from the
other side are all ones I use. After giving them some activities to do
which will help them to process what they read, then put them into new
groups using the jigsaw method and have them discuss the issue of
migrant workers as a whole. My classes found the whole idea interesting.
During the course of the unit, we discussed the history of migrant
workers in the U.S. (briefly), we learned about their daily lives and
working conditions (via descriptions in Spanish and from the book: Dark
Harvest which contains anecdotes relating to the lives of migrant
workers. We also talked about Chavez, sang songs and ate food typical of
migrant workers, wrote poetry in Spanish (which even from level II kids
was BEAUTIFUL, poignant, and outstanding), read relevant poetry from
Sandra Cisnero's book Cool Salsa, traced the paths of migrant workers
across the U.S., worked on vocabulary related to food and
harvesting/farming, illustrated and interpreted metaphors which occur on
every page of the Canto de las palomas book, sequenced some stories
based on their pictures, practiced preterite and imperfect, discussed
childhood, discussed issues relating to immigration, migration, and
prejudice/stereotypes, etc., etc., etc.

Cherice Montgomery

5. Game rules.

97/10 From-> Mary E Young <>
Subject: Re: How to play $10,000 pyramid?

It's late, but I'll try to be coherent. This is a great language game.

The object is to identify a category given examples from it. Example:
You and I are partners. You look at your category card. Within a time
limit you give me ingenious clues like these:

a car
a house

and, brilliantly, I guess: "Things with windows"

That is the "lightning round" for the winners. Basic play works the same
way, except pairs of partners take turns giving the clues for the same
category (one at a time). The value of the prize goes down with each
clue given, as I recall.

This is a good way to get kids to think critically about defining
elements and to push their vocabulary use. I would allow circumlocution
in this game. With carefully chosen categories this can be done in level
1 classes.

Thanks for the reminder. This is a good game.


>Do you remember the tv game show from eons ago that was called $10, 000
>pyramid? It had to do something with categories. I vaguely remember the
>contestants with their backs to the category screen...
>.. I couldn't figure out "Pyramid". HELP!


97/10 From-> Michael Liebe <>
Subject: Re: How to play $10,000 pyramid?

Basic play works the same
>way, except pairs of partners take turns giving the clues for the same category
>(one at a time). The value of the prize goes down with each clue given, as I recall.

Actually, this is the basic play for "Password", another good game

For "$10,000 Pyramid" (or 10,000,000 won Pyramid here in Korea!), the basic play
is similar to the "lightning round", but backwards. The partners choose a category -
for example 'Things with windows". One partner is given a list of about 10 words that
fit that category and has to explain, describe, gesture wildly (in the target language, of
course) until the other partner guesses the word.

>This is a good way to get kids to think critically about defining elements and
>to push their vocabulary use. I would allow circumlocution in this game. With
>carefully chosen categories this can be done in level 1 classes.
>Thanks for the reminder. This is a good game.

I'll second that.

Michael Liebe
Yongwol College
Yongwol, South Korea


97/10 From-> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Re: How to play $10,000 pyramid?

Don't know about the $10,000 Pyramid; but I use tic tac toe, pick up
sticks, baseball , basketball and a game that I call Rock y Roll
vocabulario for vocab review.


6. Integration of activities.

97/01 From-> Mary Young <>
Subject: Re: Integrating subjects

Sorry to post to the list, but it wouldn't deliver for some reason. You
were looking for ideas to design a course using math, science, social
studies, ... and French.

You're supposed to design an entire course? 180 days? How about Around
the World in 180 Days--an international team circles the world
collecting data as they go, measuring and counting things; collecting
songs, dances, foods, traditions, interviewing people who live in the
various countries; using French as the lingua franca in most of the
places they visit; conducting science experiments or studying flora and
fauna or oceans and weather (important if you're traveling by balloon as
several recent attempts have proven); running into situations in various
countries as current events dictate; finding out how various
civilizations are set up as they travel through...

You can of course refer to Jules Verne as a resource or starting point.

Or, charting/cruising the rivers of the world, looking for ways to
improve food crops for nations in need, based on some world health
organization. Or, sailing with Jacques Cousteau (plenty of videos to
support this), visiting various countries and examining the influences
of westernization on 3rd world countries (I'm thinking of one on
Madagascar I saw recently).

Another option would be a similar team--in space exploration, in a group
such as Medecins Sans Frontieres, a UN aid team, etc.

What an intriguing assignment.

Best of luck,

7. Learning centers.

97/08 From-> "Jean L. Pacheco" <>
Subject: Games/learning centers/songs/plays (fwd)

I have some learning center games that can be used to teach vocabulary
and culture:

l. Checkers--Use white labels on regular checker boards. In the squares
where the checkers are to be placed and moved, print each word right
side up and upside down so both players can read it. The children play
checkers in the usual way, but they must be able to read the word or
they cannot move to that space.

2. Spin It--Select pictures of current vocabulary. Rubber cement the
pictures to small plastic color plates: yellow, blue, red. These plates
can be bought in any grocery store. Stack the plates and place them in
the wastebasket with a ruler. This game may either be played by two
people or by teams. The players remove the plates and ruler from the
basket. They place the ruler at the throwing distance. The players take
turns drawing a plate, naming the picture in Spanish, and attempting to
spin it in the basket. Each player scores one pint for each correct word
and an additional point if he hits the basket. If the player misses the
word, another team member may tell him, the word, but he gets no point.
He may still throw the plate for a point.

3. Sink the sub--Decorate two coffee cans with a sea scene. Rubber
cement pictures of current vocabulary on small submarines printed on
cardstock. The two captains take turns naming the words in Spanish and
sinking the words in their cans if they are right.

4. Triangular twist--Make four triangles of equal size. On one triangle
print three words in Spanish, one word on each side. On the other three
triangles put pictures of vocabulary items. The students match the
pictures and words. (I use the National Textbook pictures for all of my

5. El Esqueleto--This is my version of Old Maid. I use a skeleton from a
Day of the Dead book instead of an Old Maid.Instead of occupations I use
current vocabulary such as clothing or food. The rules are the same as
Old Maid. Whoever is left with El Esqueleto is the loser.

6. Flower Poke It--I have a flower pattern that I print on cardstock and
lamintate. To each flower I rubber cement 8 vocabulary pictures. I then
use a paper drill to make holes below the picture. You can use a paper
punch if you put them close to the edge. On the other side on white
labels I print the name of the picture in Spanish. Students work in
pairs. One student pokes his pencil through the hole and his partner
tells him if he is correct.

7. Fishing Game--Make fish out of cardstock and laminate. I always
laminate my games. Before you laminate put vocabulary pictures on the
fish. Put a paper clip to each fish. Use a ruler with a magnet attached.
Students take turns fishing for words and saying their names in Spanish.
The one with the most fish is the winner.

8. Feed the elephant--This game is used for culture. I have an elephant
which I attach to a cut off bleacher bottle with velcro. The peanuts are
made on cardstock and contain cultural information. Students draw a
peanut and give the correct answer.

I am making a series of about  learning games which I will present at
the state foreign language meeting in late October. When I am done with
the workshop I will share these games with you.

I would like to hear from other teachers regarding games to teach the
alphabet, family, school, numbers, food, color, body parts, clothing,
weather, animals, days and months, and house.

I do not have a lot of games for these. I teach elementary Spanish
grades K-5. I find that games and songs are quite helpful. I am in the
third year of my program. I get to design the curriculum myself. I used
to feel alone, because I had exhausted all of my resources here. This is
no longer true. I have a great support system--all of you. Thank-you so
much for all the ideas.

I use a variety of songs in my class, including La Arana Pequenita,
Pedro Conejito, Juan Paco Pedro de la Mar, Bingo, El Rancho de Miquel. I
have the six tapes by Jose Luis Orozco which I have found useful. I
especially like Juanito and Tia Monica which are enjoyed by my
Kindergartners and First Graders. I also have the Hap Palmer records in
Spanish. My third grades have liked the rap song: Una Familia Grande
which you can buy through Teacher Discovery.

Last summer when I attended the FLES Institute with Glady's Lipton, the
French teachers were singing "She'll be Coming Around the Mountain When
She Comes." I have also heard this song in German. It does not translate
easily. If anyone has the words in Spanish please send them to me. I
have tried and I cannot find them.

My classes also jump rope. A favorite rhyme is Osito, Osito, sabes
contar? --Si, si. --Ayudame a contar. The student then counts out loud
in the classroom until he missed or cannot remember what comes next.
Does anyone know any other jumprope rhymes in Spanish.

I did a few plays. Los Tres Osos with my third graders and Caperucita
Roja with my fourth graders. Does anyone have any other plays?

Jean Pacheco

8. Pictures (How to, what to, etc.).

95/03 From-> Susan Navey-Davis at Foreign Languages & Lit <>
Subject: Activities That Work

I currently teach beginning and intermediate Spanish at the university
level and also train and supervise student teachers. I taught high
school for seven years before coming to the university eight years ago.
The thing that has worked best for me in the high school and at the
university is my "picture file." I rely on it daily and use it in a wide
variety of ways. I will try to explain briefly what it is and a few of
the ways I use it.

What It Is:

I have collected, and continue to collect, photographs from magazines
and other similar pictures. I have -100 pictures that I actively use at
any one time. I discard (or set aside) pictures as they become passe and
I constantly add new ones to my collection. In gathering the pictures, I
look for several things:

1. I try to find ones that are close to 8 1/2" by 11" so that they can
be seen by all or most of the students when I hold one up in class. I
mount them all on 8 1/2" by 11" paper for consistency and ease in

2. I try to find images that easily recognizable. It is not my intention
to make the students guess what the picture is. (Occasionally I find
something that is so interesting that I use it even though it is at
first a bit confusing.)

3. I try to find pictures that represent both the native culture and the
target culture. Since I teach Spanish, it is not very difficult to find
images of the Spanish-speaking world even here in the US. I use things
as varied as *Ma's* magazine, "National Geographic* and realia and even
travel brochures. Now that I know I'm looking for pictures, I find them
in all sorts of circumstances -- it's a matter of "heightened awareness"
I believe.

4. I include a mix of gender, race, age, socio-economic status, etc. I
especially like ones that are a bit unexpected -- a woman mechanic, an
older person running, a father bathing a child, etc.

5. I like pictures of topics that are timely and of interest to
students, including political figures, movie stars, etc. I do stay away
from things that are very controversial or that could make any student
feel uncomfortable. If I use a picture and see that it provokes a
negative reaction, I remove it from the active file.

How I Use It:

1. As early as the "comprehensible input" stage, I rely heavily on
pictures to make what I say comprehensible. I can introduce new
vocabulary in a fairly natural way by reinforcing what I say with

2. I use pictures to elicit student responses. A picture can make a
practice with a simple point of structure more interesting and more
personal for the students. I use pictures with simple display questions
(yes/no, ARAW-types) briefly, but quickly move on to encouraging
students to express personal meaning. They seem to do that more easily
with a visual aid to refer to and other students in the class seem to
listen better and understand more of what their classmates are saying
when they have the "advanced organizer" that a picture provides.

3. I use pictures in group work on a regular basis. Students may be
given very specific tasks (identify three activities that are going on
the picture), or they may be asked to use higher order thinking skills
(HOTS) to hypothesize, predict, etc. Students enjoy working with HOTS in
groups, passing pictures from group to group, and ending with a
comparison/contrast of the comments from the various groups. That often
leads to students' defending their positions, a very high order skill,
without their realizing just how sophisticated their L2 use is!

4. I use a particular picture in a variety of activities because I think
that simulates real life (at least a little). I want to avoid having a
picture represent only one thing. I have a great picture of a father
reading to his young son -- it represents the verb "to read" but also
"to listen," it is useful for family relationship vocabulary, it is also
great for indirect object pronouns, and it works well for personal

5. I like to let the students handle the pictures. When I practice
object pronouns, I use them with TPR to get students to give things to
one another. In several activities, I have students ask one another for
things, and they give (or don't give!) them to each other as they might
do with other people in real life.

6.I use the pictures in the evaluation stage as well as in the
skill-getting and skill-using stages. I give one oral test per semester
and I have students (individually or in pairs) discuss and answer
questions about pictures. Again, I can begin with display questions,
move on to personalized questions, and end with HOTS. The students see
this as reasonable because we have used the pictures in class on a
regular basis.

I have dozens (maybe hundreds) of specific activities that I do with the
pictures, but I don't think that is what you're looking for. I hope this
brief explanation has given FLTEACHERS the information necessary to
begin a picture file and to create their own ways to use it to promote
increased L2 proficiency among their students.

Susan Navey-Davis


96/10 From-> Kirsten Merryman <>
Subject: Re: Interrogative activities

Some Ideas to Try for Interrogatives:

1. Tape a name of a famous person to students' backs and have them
wander around asking others about their person to try to guess his/her
identity (you may specify question types if you want to use various
question words).

2. Get into a big project where students create a talk show (on any
topic of interest to them), where some people act as hosts, some as
guests, and the rest as the audience, who will, of course, ask
questions. Jazz this up as much as you like!

3. When doing warm-up type activities, always make sure they get to ask
YOU questions. This act is often overlooked in the normal
student-teacher relationship.

Bonne chance!
Kirsten Merryman


96/11 From->
Subject: Re: Kasia: activities using magazine pictures

Dear Kasia,

I just did an activity today with my Spanish I that might interest you.
I made up a list of vocabulary that we had covered in class and they had
a scavenger hunt with the magazines. They were divided into groups of 2
(you could make it a larger one), got paper, scissors, glue, and a pen.
I handed out the list and they all turned it over at the same time, and
the race was on! The list consisted of 20 items such as: un coche negro,
pollo, un sombrero, etc. They had a blast, and it made for a useful and
fun period.


Laura Long


97/02 From-> Sandra Howard <>
Subject: transparencies of students/dem & interr pronouns

Dear Marylou & others interested,

I have a suggestion for oral practice of demonstrative & interrogative
pronouns. You need an overhead projector and small transparencies of
your students. Since I have small classes 20-25 frosh usually (and only
1 class), I do this every year. I take full-shot color pictures of my
students. I line 3-4 up against a wall together & take the picture.
After they are developed, I cut the kids out, glue them on white paper
(you can get a whole class on one sheet unless you've taken larger
shots) & take this to a copy store & have one color transparency made. I
then cut them out again & voila, individual transparencies of the kids
which I keep for as long as they are my students. I use them for lots of
activities on the overhead. When I teach places in level I, I put
transparencies of places & the students next to them & ask ou est Jean?
Qui va au cinema? Qui est au cafe? etc. In level III (!) when we do dem
& interr pronouns, I put several students on overhead & start off by
saying lequel s'appelle Jean? I answer also as models celui qui porte un
short bleu, or celui qui est a gauche de Marie. After I do some models I
ask students similar questions. You can ask laquelle s'appelle Marie?
Lesquels portent des t-shirts etc. Then after several students have
individually answered in front of class, you can have them work with a
partner & each st must ask 5 questions that his/her partner answers &
they switch roles.

If transparencies of your students aren't practical because you have too
many kids or for only one year etc., you can use teacher transparencies.
Pages right out of the yearbook copied in black & white on a
transparency work fine. Cut out the pictures (faces only in our book,
but that's ok; they are quite recognizable). You can ask: lequel
enseigne l'anglais? Celle qui s'appelle Mlle Phelan ou celle qui a des
lunettes. Laquelle s'appelle Mlle Costello? Lequel est barbu? Lesquels
sont les plus difficiles? etc.

When you teach direct & indirect obj pronouns you can use the teacher
transparencies and ask st (re)connais-tu ce monsieur? Oui je le
reconnais. Lui telephones-tu? le vois-tu maintenant? etc.

I've also taken pictures of our school grounds & buildings & classrooms
etc & made transparencies of them for practicing vocab. I also have
shots of an empty hallway & an open empty locker (taken at close range
so it is rather large). When teaching negatives I put transparencies of
students or things in hall (and locker; that always gets a good laugh)
and ask qui (qu'est-ce qui) est dans le couloir? Then take them away, so
the answer is personne (rien) n'est dans le couloir, or I ask est-ce que
Pierre est toujours dans le couloir? Pierre n'est plus la. Or ask quel
object (quel prof) est dans le couloir? Aucun object/prof n'est dans le
couloir. Vois-tu Pierre et Marie dans le couloir? Je ne vois ni Marie ni
Pierre dans le couloir. Use your imagination. This works well & kids
enjoy it!

I'm sure you can think of lots of things to do with these
transparencies. Amusez-vous!



97/02 From-> karol rudy
Subject: Re: transparencies of students/dem & interr pronouns

Along the same lines as Sandra's transparencies of the familiar school
grounds, students, and staff, my students have enjoyed video footage
that was taken perhaps on a Saturday or after school hours. One video
provides a tour and narration of the school (level 1 classroom/subject
vocabulary). The students love these...often times put to music. After
viewing listening comprehension may be practiced either through oral
question/answer or written questions. Videos may also be during practice
and/or games for various sports. The point is by using the familiar
territory of the school, the language becomes real for the students.



97/03 From-> Elma Chapman <>
Subject: Re: Game techniques for classroom exercises

A variation of Pictionary is based on the kids' game, "Win, Lose or
Draw." I made my own game with a set of poker chips and index cards. On
each index card put three vocab words in the target language.
(Especially with beginning levels I put a number for the chapter at the
bottom of the card so they are easy to sort out next time). One word is
circled in red, one in blue, and one has no marking, which is considered
the "white" word. I put the kids in groups of no more than 5 or six and
they compete individually within their group, rather than in teams. It
keeps everyone more on track and involved. First player takes a card,
selects a word, and draws it. When someone guesses (in the language, of
course!) the drawer and the guesser both get a poker chip of the color
corresponding to the word. The privilege of drawing passes around the
circle clockwise, so that even those who don't guess well occasionally
earn a chip by drawing. The winner is the person who first collects two
chips of each color. Two chips of one color may be exchanged for one
chip of another color, if one student gets stuck with a glut of one
color. I usually have three or four games going on simultaneously and
run between groups passing out my chips. When one group has gone through
all their cards they just exchange with another group, so I don't have
to make duplicate sets of cards. Also, once you get the cards made they
are reusable until you change texts.

Kids really seem to enjoy this activity. It's a good vocab review
especially at the end of a semester or marking period. I'd use the whole
class board version for a short warm-up activity, but not for an
extended period of time.

Elma Chapman


97/07 From-> Susan Shelby <>
Subject: game idea

I'm taking a course called "MAGIC: Meaningful Activities to Generate
Interesting Classrooms" and got a cute little activity from the first
day that I'd like to share:

It's called "The Eyes Have It" (I was thinking of making it "C'est dans
les yeux".

You find pictures (about 8x10) of all sorts of can
probably find these in Ranger Rick or National Geographic Magazines. Cut
out a square that includes the eye of the animal and glue it onto an
index card. In pairs, students have to go around and, looking only at
the eye, name the animal and name the species. For example: chimpanzee /
mammal. Then, in order to check their work, you can share answers and
put the original picture back on top of the index card
so that the picture is complete again.

Another way to modify this is to cut out a different part of the animal
(the ear, stomach, tail, etc) and the students would have to name the
body part and the animal.

I was thinking of other ways you could use of the sets of
vocab I have to teach is "transportation". I figured you could take
pictures of boats, trains, cars, trucks, etc and cut out a small portion
of it (the wheel, the trunk, etc) and have the students guess what type
of transportation it is.



97/08 From-> Kathleen Turner <>
Organization: Sharon Technology Department
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

I have used the partner clocks and really like it. But I think that the
idea of using the outline of the country with blanks next to the name of
the cities is a great variation! You could change the country after
every quarter so that the students learn the major cities of several
francophone nations...

Kathy Turner

9. Postcards.

96/08 From-> James May <>
Subject: Postcard idea

This Tuesday, after returning to school after Labor Day, I am going to
give each student a postcard that I have collected through my travels.
They write their name and address on it. I collect them and give each
postcard to another student. The scenario: The student has spent Labor
Day weekend at whatever place is on the postcard. They write a message
to the student who already has their address on the postcard describing
where they are and what they are doing in the FL. They then have to mail
them. They bring them back to me when they receive theirs in the mail
and I give the student who wrote the message a grade. This is an idea
for using postcards all of us have collected over the years. It is also
a good idea to ask friends and students who travel to bring back a few
postcards to add to the collection. It doesn't even matter if the
postcard is from a place where the FL is spoken.

James C. May

10. Pro & Con of game-playing.

96/03 From-> James May <>
Subject: Re: Another nerf-like activity

There have been several posts about practicing verbs, etc. with nerf
balls, tennis balls, and bean bags. I hated this activity every time I
was forced to "play" it, because I was more worried about catching the
object than I was in conjugating the verb! My purpose in posting this
message is to please remember that this is *not* a fun activity for
everyone! There is some stress involved.

James C. May


96/03 From-> Kathleen March <>
Subject: Fwd: Re: Another nerf-like activity

I think this is a very good point. There sometimes seems to be so much
emphasis on getting kids/students playing.

I have brought this up before and have received comments indicating I
was not interested in communicative language teaching, which were
incorrect assumptions. There is a rejection of grammar as if it were
anti-communicative. We need to keep in mind that an understanding of
structures helps people form new sentences they have never heard before.

This is Chomsky's communicative competence. For L1 this may be entirely
unconscious, and for any orally-learned language, it may be unconscious.
However, for students (of all ages) sitting in a classroom, for a
limited time each week, there is a need to give them some idea of the
structures so they can try to create new utterances. The younger the
student, the less complicated grammar, perhaps, although as I have
mentioned in earlier posts, I personally do not give complicated grammar
even at the college level. But I do teach what a verb is, and what are
infinitive, tense, person, preposition, etc. In other words, I teach
parts of speech when necessary. A brief description and then lotsa of
models and practice do best. But when the games start, kids get
distracted easily and they forget the structures they were just

I am for concentrating first on the language itself, no frills, but not
slogging through it either. A little humor and a lot of encouragement
work as well as a game. Learning is serious business, folks. I am afraid
we are getting away from that in the US education system, where we are
afraid to hurt somebody's feelings by saying 'No, you haven't done that
right'. We are pushing kids along before they have mastered something,
but because they have been able to play the game they can get an A or a
B. I can think of 2 systems which work against this trend, and of course
there may be more: the Montessori method (for general education) and the
Kumon method (for reading and especially Math). The Kumon method
especially reminds me of the way I had to learn. Where are our

This is not intended as a flame of anyone. If anything, it might be a
call to discuss the levels at which we ask students to perform. It is
only meant for discussion, not argument. As a parent, I cannot help but
be concerned.



96/03 From-> Stephen Frail/HHP/International Thomson Publishing <>
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: Another nerf-like activity

"We are pushing kids along before they have mastered something, but
because they have been able to play the game they can get an A or a B"


Your argument here can be turned around against teaching "no-frills
grammar." You can wait until your students have mastered a particular
structure before pushing them along, and your students will get an A or
a B on the quiz, but they might not be able to communicate meaningfully.
Most likely, after they've taken the quiz, they'll forget that structure
in very little time. But they got the A or the B, which should mean
they've mastered the basics of the language, shouldn't it?

It takes years to master a language, and even after years of formal
study, the nuances of specific grammar points may be beyond a student,
just as much of our own language is still a mystery after decades of
speaking it day in day out. No one ever told a child to master the
present tense before learning the past or future tenses. If they did,
that child might not be able to speak about the past or future until
they reached the fifth grade. What a dull child that would be.

My point is, and perhaps you agree anyway, that good open-ended
activities or games which allow students to negotiate meaning in
engaging and realistic context, either fun or serious, is where the
learning process shifts from learning about the language to learning to
use the language. And you shouldn't think that students have to know
everything about the language in order to use it to communicate
meaningfully. Constant recycling of the language is what builds
communicative competency: introduce a piece of a structure/vocabulary in
context, practice it in controlled to open-ended activities, expand ,
practice, introduce more new material, practice, practice with old
materials, introduce more new, etc. The recycling, always building to
open-ended communicative activities is what ensure that the student
will have a solid foundation in the language at the end of the year, and
not just a string of A's or B's on quizzes with no ability to remember
the earlier structures and no ability to communicate meaningfully.

-Stephen Frail


97/07 From-> Frank Osborne <>
Subject: Re: reasons for using games in the ESL classroom

On Fri, 4 Jul 1997 12:46:23 -0300 marta pabellon <>
>Hi listers,
>While preparing my workshop on games in the ESL/EFL classroom (all levels),
>I realized I had enough games of my own to make a collection of games book.
>Though I have several reasons for teaching through games, I would like to
>know why you use games in the classroom and what you think the importance
>or benefits of teaching through games are. I would also like to know what
>you do when students get so involved they don't want to stop or get TOO loud.
>Marta Pabellon

I love to use games in my room because I believe that their use greatly
improves the affective domain. Many students are more willing to buckle
down to the more tedious ,but in my opinion, very necessary drill type
work that is a part of most class room settings. Furthermore, right or
wrong, the high school students I teach, expect to be entertained. If I
can legitimately "drill" a concept by using a game approach......then
why not !!! Most of the students appreciate the great effort I put forth
to find activities and games that meet their interests and needs.
Sometimes I miss the mark, but They know I am trying. Their response to
the class, their attitudes etc. seem to improve when they realize how
much fun learning can be....... some of the time. I do not believe that
students learn the material any better by playing games, however.
Sometimes the competition of a game can actually overshadow the content
to be learned to the extent that students don't even make a connection.
As a consequence, I often make them answer questions about the content
of a game board, the rules of a game written in the target language,
etc. Maybe that's mean. but I insist on accountability. Finally, I think
a certain percentage of students actually acquire vocabulary and culture
as a result of simply playing the game. Sometimes they remember a word
when in comes up in a cultural reading ,etc. I won't remember that it
was part of a game , but they will. I have no statistics, but I think
that this acquisition occurs in less than % of the students. The most
popular games are those that require manipulatives like dice, game
pieces, cards; those that require movement; and finally those that are
the most competitive.



97/07 From-> John Moran <>
Subject: Re: game in the fl classroom

I love using games in the classroom. The kids love it too. I love them
because it has the students focus on an activity they are deeply
involved in (trying to win the game) while the vehicle is the language
that they are forced to speak in order to advance in the game (and win
it). Their objective is to win the game, mine is for them to speak in
the target language. We all win!

John Moran


97/07 From-> Willis Joseph Ray <>
Subject: Re: reasons for using games in the ESL classroom

I guess one of the reasons I use games in the classroom is because the
level I teach (4th and 5th graders) lends itself to learning through
games. Games keep the students' interest and keeps them actively
involved in the class. It's tough to zone out when you might be the next
one to get a point for your team.

Also, I don't know if you allow your classes to split into groups and
play games independent from the other groups. In other words, one group
might be playing Monopoly, one group might be playing bingo and another
group might be playing cards. Or maybe you split the class into teams
and play games with one side of the class competing against the other.
That's the way I do most of my games.

I find that splitting the class into two teams allows me to stay more in
control of the class and settle them down quicker if there's a problem.
Some of the ways I do this are: 1) if I see there is ONE student who is
causing the problem, that student will put his/her head down on the desk
for a few moments. When the student's head is down, their eyes must not
be visible. That usually gives them a few minutes to get themselves
under control again. 2) if one team is making more noise than the other,
I always reserve the right to award the better-behaved team an
additional point. 3) if I see a class, as a whole, has a problem getting
too loud, I insist that they use "the silent cheer." The silent cheer is
simply having them raise both hands above their heads and shake them
when they're happy with something. When the silent cheer is used, any
noise costs the team a point. 4) if the class as a whole is getting out
of hand, I raise my hand. That's the signal to the class, which they
learn the first week of school, for them to raise their hands, close
their mouths and look at me.

As far as students not wanting to quit, I always set either a time or
point limit on the games. When the limit is reached, the game is over.
It's that simple.



97/07 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: reasons for using games in the ESL classroom

I use games for the following reasons:

1) to get kids to learn what they should have learned at home but didn't
2) to break up the monotony of classroom instruction
3) as an incentive to pay better attention during class (They can't play
if we don't cover x amount of material)
4) to allow some student with low grades to experience success in the
target language
5) to make *me* smile and laugh
6) to allow the kids to burn up some of their excess energy by moving
around the room

However the main reason is that the kids learn the material better when
they play games. The games reinforce the material without having the
students concentrate on the language. Instead they concentrate on
winning the game and learning the material happens as a result of
playing the game.

Also with games, more students are active at the same time than during
regular periods of instruction - even during group work. Too many kids
talk about everything but their German during group work.

I usually play my games at the end of the period so I don't have a
problem with kids complaining that they want to keep playing. I have a
wide variety of games so I don't play the same game too frequently. This
helps keeps the games novel and interesting. Too much of anything - no
matter how good it is - will cause the kids to be bored.

The only time I play the game at the beginning of the class is if we
have a quiz or test immediately after the game.

Julie Baird


97/07 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Re: reasons for using games in the ESL classroom

I currently teach 8th graders and all levels of HS German. I play games
with all my students, even the seniors. The games are usually
vocabulary games but there are some grammar games.

When class is getting boring (for me and for the kids) but I want to do
a transparency with them and practice either vocab or a specific grammar
point, I turn the transparency into a game. I tell the kids to get with
a partner and take out 1 scrap piece of paper and a pen. I show them the
first item on the transparency and they have to write down the answer
that they think is right. Then I call on someone in class to give me the
right answer, just as I would if we weren't making this into a game. If
the answer given is correct, I repeat it and the students who have the
correct answer get a point. Then we move on to the next question/item on
the transparency. We finish the transparency and the students with the
highest number of points wins a jolly rancher. The kids keep track of
their own points and if I discover that someone cheated, then they can't
play the next time we play. This devastates them. I think it is because
they want the jolly rancher.

The games we play are simple but keep the kids' interest up.

Several months ago I offered to send a text file of games I have to any
one who asked. The offer still stands. The document is a handout I gave
at a session of the Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association last
October. It is titled "Games and Activities for Younger Language
Learners." Most of the material is appropriate for high school students.
The only problem with getting the text file is that there are no
diagrams to visually explain some of the games. E-mail me PRIVATELY if
you are interested in receiving this file as an attachment.

Julie Baird


97/07 From-> "I. E. Hewitt" <language@GOL.COM>
Subject: Re: reasons for using games in the ESL classroom

Hi Everyone, the reason I use games is that people tend to only do well
in things they enjoy. How often do you hear " I'm really good at
....., but I don't like it" ? My students rated studying English, just
above mathematics, and below all other subjects. Since we have been
using my game method, they have greatly improved, and like it! They
actually look forward to English lessons ( in Japanese schools) and I
have never had a student that did not want to play. After all, kids
*love* to play !

Ian Hewitt


97/12 From-> MmeRFB <>
Subject: Re: Why do we need games?

<< I would just like to ask the question why you feel that it's
necessary for the review for the final to be in the form of a game? >>

"Games" are wonderful. They are simply a variation on a theme. They add
variety to the classroom activities.

My absolute all time favorite thread on this list was about games. The
games that didn't require preparation. The idea I picked up is a
wonderful learning experience but by adding a competitive aspect, it
keeps the students involved.

Every game I play has a pedagogical goal ("real stuff") but with a
twist. Example: The old slashed sentence activity... I give you the
elements and you write a correct sentence. On the board (or OV) I write
various elements to create sentences. I write a sentence as well. The
students who write the same sentence I do, win. The result is that in my
class of 32 students in about ten/fifteen minutes each student writes
and read two sentences to the class and I go home knowing everyone in
the class had a turn to write and speak.

I must leave for school soon so I'm rushing now... EX: the elements
might be:

Je/ aller/ piscine
Tu/ musée

Each student writes a sentence.
Je vais a la piscine.
Tu vas a la piscine. etc...
I secretly write: Je vais aux Champs-Elysees. We go around the room.
Each student reads their sentence and those who wrote the same sentence
I did win a prize, a point...whatever.

Listeurs, Listeros, Teachers around the world, could we start the game
thread again?

I'm a "game" junkie.

Rachel Becker

11. Resources.

97/09 From-> Dee Friel <>
Subject: Re: Where to go for materials for activities

If you teach Spanish, my friend Steve Getz has a whole line of flashcard
he has created for use in Spanish classes. My students always want to
know which "packet" I brought back after each conference. They really
enjoy his products.

He can be contacted at the following:

espanol vivo
Steven J. Getz
Os351 Summit Drive
Winfield, IL 60190

FAX: 630-665-5563

on the net:

My elementary students in summer school LOVED the body parts the best.

Dee Friel


97/09 From-> dstb <>
Subject: Re: Bingo

"Word Bingo" published by HI TECH of Santa Cruz, 202 Pelton Avenue,
Santa Cruz, CA 960 (Phone: 408-425-5654) is an excellent program for the
Mac which produces cards using words or pictures and it's not too

Dave Shenk


97/09 From-> Lynn Nuthals <>
Subject: Re: Bingo

There is a wonderful program put out by HI TECH of Santa Cruz (408)
425-5654 which makes a application called Word Bingo for the MAC. Not
only does it randomize your vocabulary but allows you to print out those
randomized cards. You can use text and/ or pictures and easily changes
languages back and forth. I have been using it for years. Cost about



97/11 From-> Sue Orr <>
Subject: Games we should play in school

Sorry to be late on my promise - I know someone expressed interest in
more information on this book. It's titled Games We Should Play in
School by Frank Aycox. The main theme of the book is that games can be
used in a variety of ways and do not have to foster a win/lose
competition. Most of the games are aimed at younger students - but I
have found that teaching language my students are willing to take part
in activities that would never fly in say a social studies class. (i.e.
- "play" with paper plate clocks, sing songs...) Many of the games were
adaptable to the language classroom and either foster use of the
language or can be used to teach a concept.

Sue Orr


97/12 From-> India Plough <>
Subject: Successful activities...


The Center for Language Education And Research (CLEAR), a National
Foreign Language Resource Center at Michigan State University, is
editing and publishing a resource book for foreign language teachers.
The tentative title of the book is Successful Language Activities for
Teachers From Teachers. This resource will contain activities 15 to 30
minutes in length that teachers can use to supplement and/or complement
daily lessons. Activities can focus on a specific skill area or utilize
a combination of skills. The book will be divided into sections based on
target language. Activities in any foreign language are sought.

Guidelines for submissions:

1) Activities must be original. (If adapted from another source, please
reference the source.)
2) Provide a detailed description in the target language of the
activity. This should include the materials (if any) needed, the time
necessary to complete the activity, and the language level. 3) Provide
an English version of the activity. 4) Describe the skill area(s)
utilized in the activity. 5) Briefly (one to two paragraphs) explain the
context in which you used this activity and factors which led to its
success. 6) Hard copy or Internet submissions welcome. 7) Deadline is
March 2, 1998. Selections will be made by May 1, 1998. 8) Include your
name, address, phone number, and affiliation. Your name and affiliation
will appear with your entry in the text. Additionally, contributors
will, of course, receive a complimentary copy of the text.

Please send Internet submissions to:
Please send hard copy submissions to:
India Plough
A712 Wells Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

India C. Plough, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Administration
Center for Language Acquisition And Research (CLEAR) A712 Wells Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027

For the Teachers - Parts 12-16

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