- Keywords: Task-based, speaking, pair work
- Learner English level: Junior or senior high school
- Preparation time: 30 minutes
- Activity time: 15-25 minutes
- Materials: Handout (see Appendix)
This Battleship-like board game, done in pairs, combines listening and speaking. Students take turns verbally constructing sentences in an effort to “hit” marks on their partner’s board and deny him or her points. Although students (and teachers) unfamiliar with the activity face a steep learning curve, once they learn the ropes, the activity will basically run itself. As this activity doesn’t lend itself well to explanation, it is strongly advised to follow along with the documents in the appendix. This activity works best in a team-teaching setting, as it requires demonstration, but teachers working in other contexts are encouraged to try it if interested.
Step 1: Write the sentence halves which will make up the game board. For example, a lesson on the relative clause might include question stems like “Do you know how to” and “Does she know how to”. These sentence halves populate the leftmost column. The question endings might include “make a crane?” and “play the guitar?”, which line the top row.
Step 2: Prepare a 6x6 game board (see Appendix for example).
Step 3: Copy enough handouts for all students in your class.
Note: This procedure is a walkthrough of how to demonstrate the activity with a co-teacher.
Step 1: Both teachers will write one G, one S, and one B on each row of the game board (see Appendix for example). A random distribution is best.
Step 2: Review the sentence components for both pronunciation and meaning.
Step 3: Begin the demonstration. The winner chosen by rock-scissors-paper will verbally compose a sentence corresponding to a blank space on their game board. Both players will cross out any sentence that is called out by either player.
Step 4: Alternate turns. The second player will state a sentence which corresponds to a blank space on their own board, and both players will cross this space out.
Step 5: Continue alternating turns until there are no more blank spaces available to call out. On a 6x6 game board, set a turn limit of 10 turns per player. The game will end when 20 turns have been taken and both players have 20 spaces crossed out on their boards.
Step 6: Calculate how many points each player will have at the end of the game. Set a point value for Gs, Ss, and Bs. I usually give Gs a point value of 50, Ss 30 and Bs 20 points. Only spaces which have not been crossed out can be counted towards that player’s score.
Step 7: Find the overall class winner by asking students to raise their hands if they have over 200 points or 300 points, etc. Distribute rewards if a rewards system is in place in your classroom.
Step 8: For classes with an odd number of students, the game can be played in groups of 3. For a turn-limited game of 20 turns, each player in a group of 3 will state about 6 sentences.
This activity gives students a chance to practice speaking and listening using a variety of sentences of a certain type (giving advice, ordering fast food). However, speaking takes place in an inauthentic environment because these sentences are removed from the context in which they would normally appear. Make sure to connect the content that appears in your GSB game with actual communicative speech used in real-world situations.
The appendices are available below: