- Keywords: Grammar, writing, vocabulary
- Learner English level: Intermediate and above
- Learner maturity: Junior high school and above
- Preparation time: 10 minutes
- Activity time: 30-45 minutes
- Materials: Whiteboard, markers, slips of paper, box or bag, pencils
I’ve noticed that students tend to repeat the same grammatical mistakes, yet their eyes glaze over at the briefest discussion of grammar, so I devised this game as a painless way to review grammar. In this activity, groups of students are asked to make sentences with random words and write them on the board. Working together, students usually spot each other’s mistakes, and they often create zany sentences with disparate vocabulary words, which makes the game entertaining. Also, because this activity is competitive, students usually pay attention to see who will win.
Prepare small pieces of paper and a box or bag.
Step 1: Pass out small pieces of paper. Have students write one word on a slip of paper and pass it back to the instructor. The instructor may want to specify the type of word (i.e., nouns and verbs, or two syllable words, etc.), or request that students choose vocabulary words from a specific source. Put all of the words in a box.
Step 2: Divide the students into groups of 3-5. Divide the whiteboard into enough spaces for each group.
Step 3: Draw two words from the box. Explain that each group must construct a grammatically correct sentence using those words. Give students a time limit, if necessary. A member from each group must write the group’s sentence on the board.
Step 4: When all of the sentences are on the board and/or the time limit is up, check each sentence, correcting grammatical and spelling mistakes. Each perfect sentence receives a point.
Step 5: For the next round, draw three words from the box. Continue increasing the number of words drawn each round until the end of the game.
Step 6: Calculate the number of points to determine the winner.
Step 7: If there are words left over, have the students individually write sentences or a paragraph using all of the remaining words.
Give students additional restrictions each round, such as to write a question, or write a compound sentence. Have students check other groups’ sentences after they are written on the board, giving their groups additional points for spotting mistakes or making corrections.
This exercise is easily adapted to various levels and can be used to review specific vocabulary lists. It can be used as a lesson-filler, or over an entire class period. Students often come up with creative and funny sentences to the amusement of everyone. Because they are working in groups, they are less afraid of making mistakes. Best of all, this activity allows the instructor to bring students’ attention to common grammatical and spelling mistakes without putting the class to sleep.