- Key words:Fill-in-the-blanks, English in context
- Learner English level:Low intermediate to advanced
- Learner maturity: Junior high school to adult
- Preparation time: 30 minutes
- Activity time: 30 minutes
- Materials:Whiteboard, projector, colored markers
Here is a game which teaches English context comprehension skills such as those needed in multiple choice tests like the TOEIC. A text with words removed, rather like a cloze test, is projected onto a white board, and students write directly into blanks on the whiteboard with colored markers, attempting to guess the correct words.
Step 1:Choose a dialogue or text and prepare a Word text of it.
Step 2:Choose words to be removed from the text based on what you are trying to teach in the lesson and what the context of the text has to offer. Prepositions work well anytime, especially those used in phrasal verbs. In choosing a verb, pay attention to its object, for a noun, its modifier, anything which lessens ambiguity and helps students in their efforts to guess the correct word. Depending on their difficulty, idioms work well. And look to global references within the text which might provide less direct indications of the words’ meaning. Choose a fair number of easily identifiable words to build up your students’ confidence at the beginning of the game, but also choose a few difficult words for the end game because for each word correctly guessed and written, a word will be crossed off of the list. As the list of unused words narrows down, it will gradually become easier for students to hit upon correct words.
Step 3:In place of the words you have removed from the text, leave underlined spaces. Make the blanks equal in length if you want to make the game more challenging. But I usually use two underline spaces for every letter in the word. (Example: ______, for a three-letter word.) By the length of the underlined blank, they will get some idea of the length of the word. Because there will be any number of words of near equal length, this works as a confidence builder narrowing down possible choices, without giving them away completely. I usually remove 25 to 30 words from the text. But that will depend on the text’s level of difficulty and time constraints.
Step 4: Take the words you have removed from the text and arrange them in alphabetical order in columns above the text.
Step 5: In presenting your Word file, consider the Word print preview or perhaps Power Point. What works best for me is to scan a printed text and save it as a JPEG file which I open with Windows Picture or Fax Viewer.
Step 1: Project the image of your fill-in-the-blanks text onto a whiteboard.
Step 2: Divide the class into two teams.
Step 3:Give a colored whiteboard marker to a member of each team, and designate one team as red and the other as blue. Have the teams take turns writing in missing words while you determine whether the word chosen is correct and can be crossed off the list.
Step 4: To keep everyone involved, have all the members of each team take turns writing on the board. Should they have trouble, they can call on the help of other players. This game works best when you give each team one chance per turn to write in a word. At the beginning of the game, teams should be switching and students passing their markers off at a brisk pace. With the markers moving around rapidly, a larger class should stay involved. Students will have to pay close attention because the marker will always be working its way back to them.
Step 5: On finishing, count the number of reds and number of blues and declare a winner.
Step 6: Go over the completed text, giving explanations where needed.
This is the most basic of many similar games I use. It works both as an introduction to a text and as a review.