This is a report of a session conducted at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate in April 2006

LIVENING UP EXAM CLASSES  

This is an amalgam of ideas and activities from my own materials and from several sessions at IATEFL 2006. I have adapted and edited some of these. 

1    A way of turning any lexical activity into a personalized Find Someone Who. Great for
      kinaesthetic learners: Phrasal verb FSW: see the handout for instructions 

2    Phrasal verb OXO. Nick Witherick: see the handout 

3    Blockbuster collocations: see handout 

4    Hangman title: brainstorm questions 

5    Add a word to my sentence – try not to end it 

6    Connectors game: answer questions with increasing number of connectors 

7    Listing: write 20/25 words in a minute. Then make a monologue without changing the
      form of any of the words in the list. 

8    Picture dictation: introduce in the bottom left-hand corner etc 

9    Embassy Swap Shop 
      5 teachers from Embassy CES gave a whirlwind workshop on ideas for exam
      classes.
      Conditionals and Collaborative Creative Writing
 
      Revision of all conditionals and creative writing. Upper Intermediate 

This activity is for the revision of all conditionals as well as creative writing in the form of a biography: to be done after a revision of the form and use of the conditionals. 

1.   Give out a picture of somebody interesting from a magazine. Try to use pix of someone
      who looks as if they have /have had an interesting life rather than just the best-looking
      model. 

2.   In pairs, sts invent a life and personality for their person. Things to include would be :
      name, nationality, job, hobbies, family and personal relationships, where they live, their
      lifestyle, past events – problems and achievements, what they are doing now and what
      they hope to do in the future. Give out or board these ideas as prompts.
      The biography profile can be written: in the 1st person /in the 3rd person ‘This is my
      boyfriend/girlfriend / this was X 10 years ago 

3.   Sts write up the person’s profile (alone or in pairs) 

4.   On board, write conditional prompts e.g. 

      If I could change my …….                 If I have time this weekend …..
      If I hadn’t ………………..                   If I had listened to ……………. 
      Unless ……………………                  Provided that …………………. 

      Sts then write sentences about their person using the prompts on the board. 

5.   Sts put their picture up on board and underneath they stick their profile and their
      conditional sentences. Then they walk around the room and look at/read everybody
      else’s. 

 

Eliciting/revising new vocabulary: 

1    Teacher elicits 1/2 lexical items as a demo 

2    Give out other items on cards. Sts working in pairs or small groups each have a cards.
      Each card has a lexical item. 

3    Sts take turns at eliciting the item on each of their cards. 

4    Each pair/small group puts their items into a story (written or oral: more demanding and
      fun if oral). They rehearse it a few times. 

5    Change pairs/groups. Tell your story to your new partner/group  

 

Hangman for Collocations e.g. make a mistake 

 

Error correction race. 

1    Write each error sentence on a strip of card/paper. Make several copies, depending on
      the number of groups. 

2    Put each set of strips up in a different part of the room. 

3    Set a time limit. A runner from each group runs up to the wall, takes one strip down, takes
      it back to group, and they collaborate on correction. When satisfied, the runner goes and

      gets another strip. 

4    Stop at end of time limit. Give points for number of correct corrections made. 

 

Noughts and crosses: keyword transformations 

 

Narrative Tenses Story: Julie and Ben 

1.   Questions: pairs brainstorm answers and write story. Each students has a copy of their
      story, so they both need to write, together. 

2.   Change partners. They go through the questions and hear their new partner’s answers. 

3.   They look at each other’s stories and suggest corrections. 

4.   Sts team up with original partner and tell story they’ve read (they can do this in the 1st
      person, as if it happened to them). 

5.   They decide which was the best story 

6.   They read the original story, which can then be used for further work. 

 

AN UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT 

It was a sunny Saturday morning and a young couple, Julie and Ben, were driving to a friend’s wedding ….. 

 

  • Why had Julie and Ben left their house late? 

 

  • What kind of road were they driving along? 

 

  • What/who ran out into the road? 

 

  • How did they both react to this? 

 

  • What did they see when they got out of the car? 

 

  • Why did Ben feel guilty? What had he been doing when the incident happened? 

 

  • What did they put in a box? Why? 

 

  • Did they arrive at the wedding in time? 

 

  • When they arrived, why did they leave the box on the roof of the parked car? 

 

  • What were they talking to the best man about later that evening? 

 

  • Why did the best man look horrified? What had he done with the box? 

 

 

 

AN UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT 

It was a sunny Saturday morning and a young couple, Julie and Ben, were driving to a friend’s wedding. They were already running late as they had forgotten to set their alarm, so were in a bit of a panic. As a result, they were speeding along a winding country road, desperately trying to get there on time, when suddenly a cat darted out in front of them. Julie screamed and Ben swerved to the right, but unfortunately they couldn’t avoid it. Getting out of the car they saw, to their horror, that the cat was dead. As he had been driving so fast, Ben felt terribly guilty and wanted to give the cat a decent burial, so they decided to take it with them. However, the only decent thing they could find to place the cat in was the box that the wedding present was in. Not wanting to be late for the wedding, they decided that this would have to do, so they took the present out, placed the cat in the box, and continued on their way, planning to bury the cat later. They arrived at the wedding just in time, but as it was a warm day and the dead cat was beginning to smell, they were reluctant to leave it in the car, so they placed the box on the roof. Thankful that they had arrived on time, they rushed into the hotel, dropped the gift off on the present table and joined in with the celebrations, completely forgetting about the cat. Later that evening, after the bride and groom had left, Julie and Ben were chatting to the best man, telling him the story of the cat, when they saw the colour drain from his face. “What is it?” they asked, worried. With a horrified look on his face, he explained that he had seen a present on the car roof earlier, and thinking someone had left it by accident, had brought it in and added it to the pile, which the newly-weds had just taken away with them! 

 

It was a sunny Saturday morning and a young couple, Julie and Ben, 
(1) __________(drive) to a friend’s wedding. They (2) _____________ (already/run late) as they (3) _______________(forget) to set their alarm, so were in a bit of a panic. As a result, they (4) ____________(speed) along a winding country road, desperately (5a)____________(try) to get there on time, when suddenly a cat (5b) ___________(dart out) in front of them. Julie (6) ________(scream) and Ben (7) ___________(swerve) to the right, but unfortunately they (8) ___________(not/be able/ avoid) it. (9) ______________(get out) of the car they (10) _________(see), to their horror, that the cat was dead. As he (11) ________________ (drive) so fast, Ben (12)___________(feel) terribly guilty and (13) ____________(want) to give the cat a decent burial, so they (14) _____________(decide) to take it with them. However, the only decent thing they (15) _________(be able/ find) to place the cat in was the box that the wedding present (16)________(be) in. (17) ____________(not/ want) to be late for the wedding, they (18)_____________(decide) that this (19) ___________(will) have to do, so they (20) ___________took the present out, (21)_______ (place) the cat in the box, and (22)_______________(continue) on their way, (23)___________(plan) to bury the cat later. They (24)_____________(arrive) at the wedding just in time, but as it was a warm day and the dead cat (25)____________(begin) to smell, they (26)_____________(be) reluctant to leave it in the car, so they (27)___________(place) the box on the roof. Thankful that they (28)_________________(arrive) on time, they (29)_________(rush) into the hotel, (30)__________(drop) the gift off on the present table and (31)____________(join) in with the celebrations, completely (32)_____________(forget) about the cat. Later that evening, after the bride and groom (33)______________(leave), Julie and Ben (34)____________(chat) to the best man, (35)____________(tell) him the story of the cat, when they (36)__________(see) the colour (37)___________(drain) from his face. “What is it?” they asked, worried. With a horrified look on his face, he (38)_________(explain) that he (39)_______________(see) a present on the car roof earlier, and, (40)_______________(think) someone (41)___________(leave) it by accident, (42)______________(bring) it in and added it to the pile, which the newly-weds (43)____________(just/take) away with them! 

 

Rolf Tynan Profrolf@hotmail.com Embassy CES Oxford 

 

Oral Practice Activities Can be used to recycle target language from earlier classes or introduce a topic to discover how much your learners know before a class. 

1   Connectors Game This is the recycling of a connectors activity from an earlier presentation, which through repeated use allows the recycling of lexis and grammatical structures from past classes as well as using connectors to extend answers. 

  • Step 1 Write the following types of connectors on the board:                                     but   because   so   although   in order to   also   however   on the other hand   as a result   despite this                                                                                          (the number or selection of connectors is the teacher’s decision relating to the class’s needs and level). As far as the learners are concerned, the connectors form the basis for the activity’s purpose. In reality, they form a convenient method to promote the use of as much of the target language from a previous lesson as is required. · 
  • Step 2 Students ask their partners questions which must be answered using one connector for the first question, two for the second, etc. There can also be a constraint e.g. certain tenses, adjective usage, pronoun usage or lexical topics (which are the real targets) 

This form of warmer can really promote target language as the learners focus on being able to use the connectors and organizing their ideas before speaking. It also promotes use of longer, more complex sentences. 

2   Listing An oral practice activity that can be used for writing. This activity promotes the use of connectors, the rephrasing of sentences, the awareness of word families and cohesion of concepts in extended speech. It helps students to understand the necessity of using a range of grammatical structures in the exam; in addition, it shows the students if one word form is changed in a sentence, the whole sentence needs to change to give the same information. It is useful for the speaking, writing, listening and reading sections in which these concepts are used. 

  • Step 1 Learners are asked to write down 20 (25, 30) words they know on a particular topic in 1 minute. The activity can be lexically specific, that is the words could be nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs. The topic van be very specific, such as ‘types of transport’, or it can bemore general, such as: ‘Words connected with Education and Computers’. The topic is usually thematically linked to the reading and writing assignments for the week, to maximize lexical usage. 
  • Step 2 Learners form groups of 3-5 and are then informed by the teacher that they will have to speak about their topic using the words on their lists in the order that they have written them. They also cannot repeat a word on the list once it has been used. In adition, they CANNOT change the word form they have written e.g. ‘go’ cannot become ‘went’, ‘book’ cannot become ‘books’, ‘slow’ cannot become ‘slowly’. 
  • Step 3 Another topic is chosen and steps 1 and 2 are repeated. 

 

Collocation Blockbuster 

Enlarge the chart below and stick it on the board. 

Print out the collocation list below and write to following words on the board:

Make       break       catch       lay       give       take       go off       get over 

lose       pass       hold       pay       tell       run       miss 

Divide the class into 2 teams and have 2 different colour markers one for each team

The object of the game is for one team to get an unbroken chain from one side of the chart to the other by answering questions correctly according to the letter e.g. A G B A T. 

Flip a coin to decide which team starts and they have to choose a letter e.g. A. You read out one of the words or phrases for the letter ‘A’ e.g. alarm clock.  Students must find the correct word or phrase from the board which collocates with that word e.g. go off.

If they get it right you cross out the ‘A’ with that team’s colour. If they get it wrong the other side has a chance to answer and claim that letter. The other team then chooses a letter - they can either choose to block the other team by choosing ‘H’ or ‘G’, or they can start their own chain by choosing a letter in the first line e.g. ‘S’. The game continues in this way until one team has a complete chain from one side to the other. 

Collocation List:

A advantage of / attention (to) / alarm clock 

B a bomb / a business 

C a cold / control of  / a compliment 

D a disappointment 

E an exam / elections 

F fire / a fine / food 

G a glimpse of 

H someone’s heart /  heart / (your) head / hope 

I an impression / the ice 

L the law /  a living / a lie 

M a meeting / a mistake 

N the news 

O an offer 

P a party / a promise / a profit / place / part (in) 

R a restaurant 

S a speech / someone’s eye / a story 

T the truth / talks / train 

W weight / a wish 

 

 

blockbuster chart

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