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.


About Eleanor Gordon

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

3 responses »

  1. Jeremy Dean says:

    Hi, I hope I’m doing this right, I’d like to contribute an idea and your guidelines suggested this method.
    I teach Spanish 6- and 7-year-olds in English, in an ‘immersion’ school, in Spain. In my off-duty hours i’m trying to learn Spanish.
    Each week I post on my blog a ‘Photo/video/audio puzzle for teachers of Spanish. In essence, each ‘puzzle’ has something Spanish which needs translating or figuring out. I take all my own photos and videos.
    I’ve had some very positive feedback from the Times Educational Supplement MFL forum members, who’ve said it’s been very useful with a variety of age ranges. I hope you’ll find it useful.
    Please contact me with comments/suggestions.

    Un saludo (see, I wasn’t joking about the ‘learning Spanish’ bit,
    Jeremy Dean

  2. Sadhbh says:

    I would like to try out this starter using phrases related to Housework, pocket money and how often you receive it. Some of the vocab will already be known but some is new. How would you go about translating all the vocab in a fun/quick/interactive way? Thank you!

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