Keeping on task

I have found with one of my low ability groups a good way to keep attention whilst presenting new work on the Interactive White board was by using a worksheet.

The worksheet I created had gaps in and the pupils had to literally fill in the gaps as we went through the new work/ grammar structure/ vocab/ ideas etc. It allowed the pupils to follow the new information whilst keeping focus so that they could fill in the sheet which ultimately becomes their reference sheet for any further tasks.

This task gave some ownership to the pupils as they were in charge of copying the right section/ word down. It could be made harder by leaving more gaps for pupils’ own examples or synonyms. Also the pupils could be given the chance to guess the answers beforehand if it is being used as a refresher/ revision activity.

Fill the Gaps – Basic

Take a text in TL and take out some words. Have the students fill in the gaps. You may want to include the list of words missing, or leave it open to a little more creativity from your students. You could also do this with a song students are listening to.

Human compass

Drill the points of the compass, but rather than arrows or flashcards, get students waving their arms about!  So arms up for North, arms right for East, etc.  This will get confusing as the teacher stood at the front of the class will either be doing East and West opposite to the children, or could mirror it…

I found that it woke the children up, and was a good kinaesthetic activity.  There was some confusion over the East/West, but I did point out the rather large E on the wall (from MFL Sunderland), which seemed to help.

I then got one student to be the compass pointer – I had NESW on the walls and she had to choose where to stand and students had to say where she was.

Good fun, slightly chaotic, not much preparation, good results!

Masculine or Feminine? (YMCA Style)

Another silly arm-waving/cheerleading game.

Students use their arms to show M or F (whole-body F!) to indicate whether a word is masculine or feminine. Fun for introducing new vocabulary, you could do this at the same time as repeating for pronunciation, or afterwards as a recap.

Good for reinforcing  constructions where the gender is not immediately obvious, such as les magasins, or for words that break rules, such as la mano in Spanish.

Could be expanded for plurals and singulars, probably with more energetic s-shapes for plurals or similar.

Accent Karate

Whenever you want to reinforce accent knowledge, you can ask students to respond to questioning with actions.

I use acute / grave accent with slanted arms (often inevitabley with accompanying shouting of the accent name/sound), circumflex (two hands), and even umlauts (two punches forwards).

You can easily turn this into a game by seeing who gets the accents wrong/right.

Helps with accuracy in writing, and can also help pronunciation (at least for e acute in French!)

Burbujas: Bubbles


Students each have a sheet in the format of the one pictured above.  Each student secretly chooses one of the phrases from inside of each of the bubbles (a pen mark will help).  Student A will read and guess the first word from inside the bubble.  If student A gets the word right, they can progress and attempt to guess the next one.  When student A chooses the wrong one, they must stop and it is partner B’s turn to do the same thing.  They must keep going like this until they have got all the way to the end of the document.  There is potential for three games of this so the students have a chance to select each of the options in the bubbles.  Good speaking, listening and memorisation activity.


  • Handout similar to one pictured above.

Extension activities

  • Students could use the speaking grid as a writing frame to produce a written piece.
  • Students could write their own ‘bubbles’ using similar vocabulary for other pairs in the class to play.

A good activity because…

  • It can be used throughout the key stages, and is particularly useful as a different way to practise controlled assessment speaking paragraphs.
  • Students like competition and it keeps them busy.  Just remind them not to stop after they have done it once.

Last one standing

This is a good way for testing vocabulary in a whole class situation.  There are two ways of doing this: you either reward knowledge and the student gets to sit down when they get it right, or you challenge it and they stay standing.  The last one standing can therefore be a good thing or a bad thing! 

You go round the class, rapidly firing the vocabulary you want to test, English-TL or TL-English.  If the student gets it right, they either sit down or stay standing, depending on the version you are playing.  Go round the whole class, round and round until you either have a winner or a loser standing.  

If you are doing it so the last one standing is the winner, it can get very competitive and very long!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, out!

This is a quick way to revise lots of vocabulary on topics, good for GCSE.

Very simply, you line students up in 2 lines or get them to do it in pairs, up to you.  You set the topic, e.g. holidays.  Students have to rapidly fire vocabulary, taking turns, without repeating.

A: Hotel
B: Plane
A: Campsite
B: Tent

If they repeat a word, which is why it is quite good to have you or another student ‘refereeing’, they are out.  If they hesitate, the ref counts down from 5, if they haven’t come up with a word by 1, they’re out.

The topic would then change for the next round.

This can be made into a team game, with several rounds, winner stays on, etc.

¡Buscad las palabras!: Word hunt


Another way of presenting vocabulary before drilling for pronunciation.  Give the students an empty table with a column for the TL words and a column for the English translations.  Blu-tac the words in the TL around the room.  Students work in pairs or small groups and with only one person being able to leave their seat at a time they have to fill their table.  The one student who leaves the group has to memorise the word and the spelling, come back and share with partner and group members.  The other student(s) look up the Spanish word in the dictionary.  Students take it in turns until all words are found and translated.  To make the activity quicker, give the students the English words already in the table so there is still thinking to do, but they may be able to figure out some of the meanings without a dictionary if there are cognates etc.  Get the students to peer assess the correct answers and spelling and award points.  Small prize/reward/raffle ticket for winning team.


  • Grid for students
  • Printed out words to go around the room
  • Blu-tac
  • Correct answers on .ppt

Extension activities

  • Students who finish quickly can practise drilling the words between themselves and figure out the pronunciation.

A good activity because…

  • Great for collaboration, thinking skills, dictionary skills, literacy and peer-assessment
  • Kinaesthetic activity

Ensalada de fruta: Fruit salad


A nice little ‘mixer’ I use when doing circle time with my classes just before an activity or a plenary.  When students sit in a circle, they naturally sit with their friends, so the idea is to mix them all up.  Choose three/four items of fruit then name each student as an item of fruit in the TL e.g. apple, orange, banana and grape.  Choose a student to be ‘on’, student shouts apple in the TL then all the apples have to swap seats, the student who was ‘on’ needs to find a seat, other students cannot return to the seat they left and therefore someone else will be standing to call the next fruit out.  If said student shouts ‘fruit salad’ in the TL then everyone must try to change seats.

You don’t have to just use food items, I did schoolbag and contents when ‘schoolbag’ was shouted, all had to move.  You can use phrases and change the vocabulary and play a few times either as a revision or as general vocabulary practise.


  • No equipment needed

Extension activities

  • Move on to short phrases

A good activity because…

  • You don’t need any equipment
  • Great for small SEN groups to generally practise vocabulary
  • We have 100 minute lessons and it can be a good energiser and kinaesthetic activity
  • Great mixer (of students) when doing circle time activities