- Keywords: Ice-breaking, grammar review
- Learner English level: Low-intermediate
- Learner maturity: Junior high school and above
- Preparation time: 5 minutes
- Activity time: 15-30 minutes
- Materials: Handout
The first class of the new year can be challenging. The students may not know each other, let alone the teacher, making for a potentially silent and awkward start to the year. The mood can be enlivened through a fun game such as bingo. This activity adds guessing, basic grammar review, and production to traditional bingo to encourage communication, and is a great way for students to learn about each other (or their teacher) in the first class of the year.
Step 1: Make copies of the bingo sheet handout for each student. The handout consists of a five by five grid. Above each column is the beginning of a yes/no question and in each of the five squares below is an appropriate end to the question and the words YES/NO. For example, “Do you…” followed by “like dogs?” or “Have you ever…” followed by “been to Tokyo Disneyland?”. The questions can be modified according to the level of the students and the grammar point the teacher wishes to review. It is also good to personalize the questions to include local features or current pop-culture.
Step 1: Review the basic question and answer grammar. For example, “Can you ___?” “Yes I can / No I can’t” or “Do you___?” “Yes I do / No I don’t”
Step 2: Have students form pairs and give them a copy of the bingo sheet.
Step 3: Explain that the students have to guess what their partner’s answer to the questions will be, circling either YES or NO.
Step 4: Explain any unfamiliar words on the handout.
Step 5: Have students take turns checking their guesses by asking their partner the questions (e.g., “Do you like dogs?”), making sure that they answer using the appropriate grammar (e.g., “Yes I do”) If the student guessed their partner’s response correctly they mark the square with a circle, if they guessed wrongly then mark it with an X. A line of five correct squares with circles is a bingo.
Step 6: Once all students have finished questioning their partners and marking their sheets, have them count how many bingos they have. The student with the most bingos is declared the winner.
Step 7: Give students a blank copy of the bingo sheet and have them write their own questions. Make sure to allow sufficient time and access to dictionaries if necessary. The teacher may also wish to collect the completed sheets to check the compositions before continuing.
Step 8: Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the new sheet.
Have the students try to guess the teacher’s answers. To avoid inappropriate personal questions and highlight interesting aspects of themselves, the teacher can provide a premade question sheet, as shown in the appendix. For example, if the teacher is involved in mountain climbing, they could write “Have you ever… climbed Mt. Fuji?” and (hopefully) impress the students with their answer. This is particularly useful for assistant language teachers who may be sent to multiple different schools that each request a self-introduction lesson.
Also, groups can be asked to write a column of questions for a master copy on the board. Individual students then copy this onto blank sheets, guess the teacher’s answers, and (as a class) ask the teacher the questions to see who guessed the most correct answers.
This activity encourages students to think about (and talk to) their classmates in a fun game context. The format also lends itself to repeated practice of basic questions and answers, along with the chance to compose their original questions. Often students who have known each other for a long time are surprised by their friend’s answers.
The appendices are available below: