A perfect match

Fumie Togano, Hosei Daini High School


Quick guide

  • Key words:  Conjunctions, listening, speaking, logical thinking, matching, group work, competition
  • Learner English level: Low intermediate
  • Learner maturity: High school
  • Preparation time: 30-40 minutes
  • Activity time: 25 minutes
  • Materials: Strips of paper on which half of a sentence is written

In Japanese high schools, we spend a lot of time teaching grammar, and grammar classes tend to become rather static: the teacher explains a grammar point in front of the class and the students do exercises at their desks. In order to activate a grammar class a little bit, I used the following review activity with a group of 23 students after teaching the uses of subordinating conjunctions. Knowing the uses of conjunctions is important in making logical and more complex sentences, and this activity gives students an opportunity to review them in a fun way. In addition, this game requires students to read, memorize, listen, speak, and think, so it can help them improve more skills than a matching exercise on a worksheet done individually.

Step 1: Make sentences using subordinating conjunctions. You need half as many sentences as your students. Since this is a review activity, use words your students already know.
Step 2: Divide the sentences into Group A for Group A students and Group B for Group B students (see Appendix for example sentences). Be careful that the average length and vocabulary level of sentences are the same across groups.
Step 3: Write the main clause and the subordinate clause of each sentence on separate strips of paper. You will have as many strips as your students.

Step 1: Divide students into Group A and Group B.
Step 2: Give each student a strip of paper on which part of a sentence is written. Make sure that Group A students receive Group A sentence parts and Group B students receive Group B sentence parts.
Step 3: Tell students to remember what is written on their strip. They shouldn’t write it down or show their strip to other students.
Step 4: Collect the strips of paper.
Step 5: Tell the students that what they have remembered is just half of a sentence and that they have to find the person with the other half to make a complete sentence. Tell them to walk around, ask other students what they have, and sit down together when they have found the right partner. When one team has an odd number of students, the teacher can join the team. The team with more correct sentences is the winner. If both teams have got the same number of sentences right, the team that finished first wins.
Step 6: Start the game: Have the students stand up and start moving around, looking for the person with the matching half of their sentence.
Step 7: When all the students have sat down, check the answers by having each pair say the sentence out loud. Begin with the pairs in the team which finished last. This is to ensure that the students listen to the completed sentences of both teams. If you start checking with the group which finished first and find out that their answers are all correct, the students will know who the winner is and lose interest in checking the second group’s sentences.

I tried this activity with low-intermediate English learners, so I kept the sentences fairly simple. You can adapt the length and complexity of the sentences to the level of your students. You can also prepare sentences which contain not only subordinate conjunctions but coordinate conjunctions or conjunctive adverbs. This small activity can easily fit into regular grammar classes as a review exercise in making complex sentences. Since it is a game which involves students moving around, it will be good for a change of pace, especially when the students look sleepy.

Sentences for Group A
We changed our plans… …because he arrived late.
Once he starts talking, … …you can’t stop him.
Though he studied hard, … …he didn’t pass the exam.
We had better go home… …before it gets dark.
You will be late for school… …unless you hurry.
We have known each other… …since we were children.

Sentences for Group B
Call me… …when you get to the station.
Since I had a cold, … …I went to bed early.
Let’s wait here… …until it stops raining.
Although teachers give a lot of advice, … …students don’t always take it.
As soon as we are ready, … …we will go.
Mr. Oka came to see you… …while you were out.