Take a text and cut it into small phrase-sized or sentence-sized chunks. Divide the class into groups – groups of 4-5 works best. Keep the cut up texts at the front of the class, numbered and one for each team. Give each group the first part of the text, and they need to translate it and bring it back to you for approval. When you’re satisfied, you can give the group the next part of the text. Repeat until done!

This activity has the potential to become quite chaotic, so here are a few things I have learned from running it!

  • Colour-code the texts somehow. You could print out the texts in different colours or just scribble a line along the top with a coloured pen/pencil.
  • Keep all of the texts at the front. I pre-cut them so they can be like tear-off strips, and tape them to a desk so students can tear them off – put these on a desk but not the one where you’re marking as this will cause a traffic jam!
  • Stay rooted to the front and enforce a queue! You may end up with 2-3 students queuing but because the phrases are short they are quickly marked.
  • Don’t correct mistakes, just highlight where they are. (This makes the students REALLY work hard on accuracy!)
  • Watch the time! It’s very busy for the teacher as well as for the students and it’s easy to get carried away. This activity could easily take a whole lesson if you want it to.
  • Use some kind of scoreboard so the groups can see where the others are up to. I use a single page on the whiteboard and let students tick off each number, or
There is potential for a huge amount of differentiation. For a start, you can choose how strict you want to be when accepting translations. Even changing the direction of translation has a massive impact on the difficulty level.
You can even pre-prepare the texts. Give the students the whole text and allow them to make notes as you discuss vocabulary / tenses / structures.
I think I originally got this from a PGCE session by @rene_koglbauer.
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About Eleanor Gordon

Jobseeker with an interest in the arts, trained in languages and education.

3 responses »

  1. cj8922 says:

    Great minds! Think we must have written this one up at the same time – your version is much more understandable though 🙂

    The kids love this one, lots of running around and very motivational. I tend to stop it once 3 groups have finished as the competitive element is lost, and it’s definitely worth having an extension/extra task for the first finishers.

    • Great minds indeed! It’s an awesome activity, so much fun. It’s also lovely to see how nitpicky they can get with grammar and spelling when pushed. What extension activities would you suggest?

  2. cj8922 says:

    Hmm…a suggestion from my top set year 8 was that early finishers could write review/challenge questions to go into a mystery box, which can then be used for revision games etc (e.g. with mini whiteboards) in later lessons. Something paper based is going to be best, maybe 0 and X or battleships, as long as they’ve done those activities before!

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