The last question

Answer the question before: Silly revision.

Teacher asks 2 questions initially, the first is unanswered and the second is answered by a student, with the answer to the first. And so it continues, with students answering the previous question as it goes around. Could also play in groups.


Use to revise / review GCSE speaking questions, KS3 Q&A, individual vocab items.

Mini-reviews / energisers: Joggers and fireworks

Joggers: All students stand up and jog on the spot – they can only sit down once you have been given 3, 5, 7… etc. things that they have learned during the lesson

Fireworks: Students stand up quickly and shout out something they have learned during the lesson, then sit down again fast. Ask for 3, 5, 7…etc. fireworks before leaving the room, to start a lesson with a review, or as an energiser/mini-plenary in the middle of a lesson.

Ideas from Rob Plevin’s webinar

Running Translation

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.

Back to Back translation

Project a short TL text. Students work back-to-back, either 2 students at a time in front of the class or all at the same time in pairs. One student can see the text on the board and the other cannot. The one who can see reads it aloud and the other translates into English.

Conversation wig-wams

Supported speaking activity useful for practice, revision, modelling, encouraging more reluctant speakers.

Prepare a short model conversation (equivalent to 1 paragraph?) in TL. Label the 2 participants A/B. Copy and paste the dialogue so you have 2 versions. On one version, add prompts in English for A, but delete the TL version, leaving only the first letter of each word and dashes to represent each letter e.g.

Normally I go to Greece with my family, because the weather is good and I love the beaches.

N———- v– a G—– c– m- f——, p—– h— b— t—– y m- e——- l– p—–.

On the other, do the same for B.

So; each copy has one set of responses in TL (to help their partner/check their answers) and one set of responses in English with prompts. Copy the 2 versions onto A4 card, with the top of each facing the middle of the card (so whichever way you look, one dialogue is the right way up and one is upside-down). Fold the card in half to form a wigwam which will stand between 2 students. Students take it in turns to translate the English from their version and find they are having a conversation in TL!

Extension/adaption ideas:

Give students the chance to prepare in pairs before hand – i.e. 2 As working together to work out their bit. A good time to practice saying it out loud too, to build confidence and check pronunciation with each other.

Give weaker students a vocab list to use if they feel they need it/have one at the front of the room that they can visit up to 3 times – this is a useful exercise for building confidence so make sure they can do it!

Afterwards, students analyse language in their pairs to find elements which make it a ‘good’ conversation / level or grade it / find ways to improve it.

Students underline elements that they could change to adapt the conversation to be about themselves / a celeb, then try again, changing the underlined elements to encourage more spontaneous speaking.

Students can prepare their own versions to swap/ practice with each other.

Points scoring speaking

This is a way I use to try and get pupils used to speaking at length and using different tenses, adjectives, adverbs etc. I have a score sheet that goes up on the board that looks something like this: preterite 10, imperfect 10, perfect tense 15, subjunctive 20, verb link phrase (eg despues de haber + pp) 15, future tense 10, conditional 10, continuous tense 10, acabar de 15, original adjective 5, adverb 5, comparative/superlative 5, lo phrase 5, moment of originality 10, moment of genius 10 etc etc. I sometimes minus points for using words like ‘bueno’, ‘malo’,’aburrido’ or repetitiveness depending on the ability of the set.
I will set a question, give everyone a minute or two to think about it, and then pupils have 30-45 seconds to speak, and I award points for what they say. You can play with pairs if you want for larger sets. I used to play it a lot when we did the OCR GCSE with the role play 3s (picture stimulus) and do it still with the WJEC word webs. It gets pupils into good habits about learning the importance of what to say in order to target As and A*s in the speaking and because people get quite competitive it takes away the nervousness barrier to some extent. The other benefit is that pupils hear what other pupils do, and start copying phrases that they know score points, and it creates a memory for when they actually do a speaking assessment.

Scattergories / Stop

This is quite a good term ender or revision game, or maybe something for the last few minutes of a lesson. I call. Basically, have a list of categories for the subjects that you want the revise (for GCSE could be , Comida/Bebida, Ropa, Partes del Cuerpo, Deportes, Verbos, Adjectivos, Lugar en una ciudad, Cosa en una casa etc. Pupils play individually, in pairs or small groups. A letter is picked and then they have to write down a word beginning with that letter in each category. The first person/pair /team to complete the categories shouts’ Stop’  and gets 5 points and everyone stops writing. You then go through the answers, original answers get 10 points, words that other groups have get 5. For example, for ‘B’ you could have the following answers based on the categories above: batido, bufanda, boca, baloncesto, bailar, bello, bar, butaca.

A different version of this is to give a category and pairs / teams have one minute to write down 10 words within that category. Again, 5 points for an answer that another group has, 10 point for originality.

Chaotic Listening

A twist on a listening activity for you…..

Give pupils a small card with an image on it, representing some of they key vocabulary that the class have been learning eg. if you have been learning daily routine, each card could show each of the reflexive verbs learnt, some pupils could have the same card – it doesn’t matter. Play an extract from an audio file (or read your own text out loud) and when a pupil hears their word they have to stand up and then sit back down again quickly. You should end up with pupils popping up all over the room if they are paying attention. Once you have done this once get the pupils to swap cards and do it again or make it harder by giving them two cards to listen out for.

Gap fill around the room

Another way to make pupils read…..

A common activity in the MFL classroom is a gap fill task, where pupils have a variety of words that need to be placed in a text. Why not shake this activity up and put the words around the room for them to find. They love the challenge of finding them, and then are more focused when they need to sit down and try to put all the words in the text correctly.

Running Dictation

I love using this activity to make pupils read a text in detail and you can encourage lots of TL use by giving the class the language they need to do the task, eg: How do you spell that? Say it again please. I’ve forgotten. Yes, that is right. No that is not right, you need a coma/full stop/capital letter etc.

Choose a text (or a few different ones) and stick them up on the walls, preferably as far away from the pupils as possible. Divide students up into small groups (4s works well) and give each group a text on the wall that they will be running to. Appoint a secretary/scribe and a runner, then, on the word go,  the runner runs to the text for their group, runs back to the group and tells the secretary (the only person allowed to write) what the text says, who must write it down correctly. The aim of the game is to be the first group to finish copying the text correctly and you can allocate points to the first few teams to finish. Then you can get the pupils to assess each other’s written texts for errors and for each mistake the team loses a point. At intervals throughout the race, call out ‘change’ so the runner and the secretary have to give their role to someone else. Do this as many times as you dare! I also like to go round listening in and deducting marks for anyone caught speaking in English.