- Keywords: Country flags, geography
- Learner English level: High beginner to intermediate
- Learner maturity: Junior high school to university
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Activity time: 20-25 minutes, depending on class size
- Materials: Country flags (pictures or originals), content flashcards, magnets
Many university freshmen are hugely interested in learning about different countries and cultures. Although their geographical knowledge is sometimes limited, many dream of traveling abroad. This is a useful and practical activity that gives students greater insight into basic factual knowledge countries around the world and can serve as a springboard to further interest in particular countries or regions of the world. Furthermore, this activity will improve pronunciation as students often confuse English with their katakana equivalents.
Step 1: Have flags of various countries around the world. Try to use larger color prints of flags or original flags if possible (i.e., minimum A4 size) to enhance class interest. Make sure these flags correspond to the countries in Step 2.
Step 2: Prepare five sets of content flashcards: a) Country’s name; b) Country’s capital city; c) Currency; d) Someone famous from that country; and e) Something famous from that country. Feel free to add extra sets of content flashcards if time allows or for a greater challenge.
Step 1: Practice drilling the content flashcards in unison. Do this with each set.
Step 2: Under each flag, say the name of the country, its capital city, currency, someone famous from this country, and finally something famous from this country.
Step 3: Put the content flashcards away and have the students make two lines (i.e., two teams).
Step 4: The teacher stands at the whiteboard and puts one content flashcard on the whiteboard. If one of the two students correctly guess the country, they get five points. If a student is incorrect, they lose five points. This discourages random shouting of country names. If neither student knows the answer, put another content flashcard of the same country on the whiteboard. If one of the students answers the country correctly, award four points. Subtract four points for wrong answers. Again, continue this pattern with up to five flashcards on the whiteboard if neither student knows the correct answer. Therefore, students can receive more points if they answer correctly earlier with fewer content flashcard cues. Students may also receive bonus points if they can provide any additional key information about that country.
Step 5: Once a student has answered correctly, two new students will move to the front of the line and the activity continues.
Step 6: The team with the most points wins the activity.
Step 7: Review the countries at the end of the activity and their associated content.
This activity increases students’ English geographical knowledge and can spur interest in individual foreign countries. You can start off with larger countries for beginner-level students. For higher-level students, you may want to use smaller, lesser-known countries. In addition, you can change the country information depending on the student level. For example, at the university level, content such as politicians, population, world ranking by size, or economic or cultural data could make this quiz more challenging. From implementation of this activity, I noticed that students increased their geographical knowledge and interest in foreign countries at the same time. Naturally, this will be of most use to students who have an interest in world travel, but it is beneficial to all students to gain a better understanding of the world around them.