Sort it Out

Give students a bunch of words or phrases to ‘sort’ any way they like. Students may choose to categorise the words by meanings, sounds, grammatical properties, or something completely different.

You could then get feedback as a class, or simply monitor each group and see how they sort the items. The fun part is asking them repeatedly to sort the items in different ways.

It may be interesting to throw in a few words that may be unknown, to see how students cope with the unknown words.

You may even want to try this for introducing unknown words, where students don’t have the meanings of the words beforehand, and clues could be given for subsequent sorts – “these words are all connected with food” for example.

Walk the Line

Set up an imaginary line in the classroom, from ‘agree’ to ‘disagree’. When a statement is given, students should arrange themselves along that line depending on to what extent they agree or disagree with that statement.

To check understanding, students could then be asked why they stood where they did in English or in the target language. You could allow groups on the same points to work together, or have students work independently. They could have time to construct longer answers, or be put on the spot.

To stretch even further, the responses could simply be collected on papers and used on the board for more comprehension, accuracy work, or increasing vocab.

If you’re controversial enough , you might even collect enough for a mini-essay.

Pronunciation Face

I couldn’t think of a more appropriate title for this one –  let me know if you can!

This activity is one I’ve used with my adult learners of French.

The aim is to ‘mouth’ words in the target language to a partner. They must then say the word out loud or translate. I found this particularly useful as it makes people really focus on getting the right ‘shapes’ for vowels in particular.

You could do this with a predefined list of words or with a topic in mind.

New Year, New Connections

I recently posted a round-up of this blog’s 2012 activity. It would be wonderful if we could keep up the good work from last year and really push to make the blog useful for as many people as possible! Please do get in touch if you’d like to contribute, and feel free to use and share any ideas you find here. I have also just created a “page” for the blog on Facebook, for those of you who like to connect that way. This page will contain a selection of posts, depending on whether the author chooses to publish them to Facebook or not!

Best wishes for the new term, and I’m looking forward to welcoming new contributors and ideas in 2013!

-Eleanor (Admin)

Vocabulary Test / Vocabulary Prep

Another one that has been around since the dawn of time, or at least since foreign language classrooms came into being!

For homework, give the students a list of vocabulary to memorise, and test them on it when they come back to class.

You could do this with a list of vocabulary from the lesson you’re setting the homework in (revise today’s words!) or set it as prep homework (learn next week’s words to make the lesson easier!)

I like the prep idea, as I think that it gives the learning more meaning than “just another test”. Students who do their homework will get an immediate, noticeable benefit in their next lesson, and with any luck this will encourage them to keep on top of their vocab. Of course, the flipside of this may be that students who ignore their homework will become lost in the lesson more easily. It will be a judgement call for you based on your individual class and requirements.

How else can you put a twist on a vocab test?

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Click here to see the complete report.


Thanks everyone who contributed in 2012, whether through posting, commenting or just having a look. See you next year!

Treasure Hunt / Shopping List

An extension of gap fill around the room. Instead of a matchup on a sheet, you could get everyone out of their seats with a treasure hunt. Hide a lot of TL words around the classroom and have students hunt for the words they need. This could be used with a gap fill, reading comprehension questions, matchup activities…

Before doing this activity I would recommend spending a few minutes going over the rules of the game with the students to avoid your room being torn apart! My rules are:

  • Only one person per team out of seat at once.
  • Don’t move the words you find.
  • You don’t need to touch anything to find the words.
  • The words are not hidden on or behind my desk, inside cupboards/drawers/books.


Click image to get quiz-quiz-trade cards for topic displayed.


Students each have a small piece of paper/card like the one above with a phrase in the target language and it’s translation underneath.  Students mill around the room, when they ‘bump’ into someone student A will say their phrase in Spanish and student B has to translate (quiz), the same happens with student B’s card (quiz) if both students translate each other’s card correctly they trade, hence the quiz-quiz-trade.  To add an element of competition, ask the students to count the amount of times they exchanged and give a prize/raffle ticket/house point to the winner.


  • A set of cards set out like the one shown above.  If you click the image above you will be able to take my full copy of ‘la hora’.  I have used paper and it is enough to be used several times.

Extension activities

  • Once the students have had a good practise, you could get them practising the same question and answers without support and do role plays in front of the class.

A good activity because…

  • It can be used throughout the key stages, and is particularly useful as an independent speaking activity.
  • You can use it to drill paragraphs, phrases or single words.
  • You can differentiate by having different coloured card/paper so all students know which level they have achieved.
  • Students like competition and it keeps them busy.  Just remind them not to stop after they have done it once.
  • It could be used as a plenary at any stage of the lesson to assess what has been learnt up until that point.
  • You can join in and drill specific pronunciation errors that have frequently occurred.
  • Every class I have done this speaking activity with have enjoyed it and participated fully.

20 Answers

Forget 20 questions and go for 20 answers.

Ask a question or name a category. The class must then get 20 points within a specified time limit (3 minutes is usually ok). Each person to give an answer scores a point for the class. Anyone repeating a previously-given answer loses the class points (I take off 5 because I’m mean). Once the student gives an answer, they pick the next person to answer.

Could use with word types or just vocab, even answers to questions, depending on your group’s needs. I’d like to hear about how others may adapt this…

If the students hit the target they get a reward.


Speaking activity, especially good for higher-ability students. Take a stack of cards with words on them (I use my Kloo cards) and divide them between a small group. As the students are talking in TL (on any topic of your choice) they must get rid of their cards by using the word written on them in a sentence. For some groups you may want to allow them to have a “hand” of cards, for others you may insist they must use the word on top of their pack.

You could even hot up the competition further by allowing them to “steal” each others’ words for points.

I did this today for my AS level students, firing random exam-topic questions and challenging them to get rid of all of their cards. It often made for some very funny sentences!