Paul Nadasdy, Tokyo Denki University (TDU)
- Keywords: Communication game, reinforcement, peer-support, interaction, fun
- Learner English level: Various
- Learner maturity: High school to high achiever
- Preparation time: 5 minutes
- Activity time: 15-20 minutes per game (multiple games)
- Materials: A3 paper, dice (1 die per 4 students), marker pen
Talkopoly, a communication game which appears in Talk a Lot (Martin, 2003) is an adaptation of the board game Monopoly, with English practice questions instead of places, properties, and streets. Simple questions on the game board make it perfect for practicing basic communication. However, if you have your students fill in their own game boards with questions and talking points based on what they have been studying, this can help reinforce recently learned grammar and vocabulary in a focused, collaborative, and enjoyable way.
Step 1: On an A3 sheet of paper draw a large rectangle (a couple of inches from each edge), then a smaller rectangle 3 or 4 inches inside from the one you have drawn.
Step 2: Draw vertical lines between the horizontal lines so there are 20 boxes in total (see Appendix).
Step 3: In one of the 4 corners write: Start/Finish and in the other 3 corners write: Free (you can adapt the corner squares to suit your students’ level – timed discussions, list 5 words, etc.).
Step 4: Photocopy 1 sheet for every 4 students in your class – to get the best out of this game, students should ideally be in groups of 4 or in groups of no less than 3.
Step 1: Explain that everyone should write questions on the blank game board relating to what they have been learning in class; for example, in food themed units they may write: What’s your favourite food? or What did you have for breakfast? You can write examples of questions on the board if the students’ English ability is low or the grammar point is challenging, but try to keep this to a minimum.
Step 2: Some groups finish their game board preparation quicker than others. This is not a problem, but make sure you keep track of who is ready to start; as you are monitoring the groups constantly it is easy to spot who will be ready quickest.
Step 3: As soon as a group fills all the spaces on their game board, describe to that group how the game is played. Demonstrate by putting a counter on the start/finish square (a coin or an eraser will do), then roll the die yourself and move the counter to the corresponding square. Indicate to the student to your left that he or she should now ask that question to you. Give an answer. Now tell that same student to ask a follow-up question relating to what they asked or what is written in the square.
Step 4: Indicate that the corner squares are special and explain what they will need to do if they land there. Encourage them to do either Rock-Paper-Scissors or highest number rolled goes first. Repeat this explanation individually for all the groups.
Step 5: If a group finishes their game quickly, you can either mix groups around or have them re-start the game. Both options work well.
Step 6: When the class is finished, collect the boards and dice. Further review of what students have written is a great way to find out what they need more help with.
This is a simple and fun game designed to help students go over what they have been learning. It is an interesting way for them to practice grammar and vocabulary and they can do so while communicating in English. There is a lot of scope for peer-support during the game creating process, and the content generated provides a great way for the teacher to monitor students’ language needs. It is also an enjoyable way for the students to end their week of study.
Martin, D. (2003). Talk a lot (2nd ed.). Okegawa, Saitama, Japan: EFL Press.
The appendix is available below.