Grammar lessons sometimes get a bad press. Perhaps that’s because they might typically have involved long, drawn-out explanations and activity upon activity of mechanical form-based practice. Explanations and closed practice are necessary of course, but in this blog post, let’s look at three activities that allow the students the chance to personalise the grammar and use it more creatively. All the activities include the game element of guessing.
1. Dialogue: guess the modal phrase
Students have been learning modal structures for speculation (see grammar focus box). After some practice exercises students work in pairs on exercise 6 (see box) in which they have to create a dialogue using one of the five modal phrases.
Once they have completed the dialogue students perform it in front of the class, but miss out the phrase. The rest of the class guesses the missing phrase from the context.
Here’s an example:
I got ten on the maths test!
_________________ You can’t count to ten.
No it’s true, look!
Who did you copy?
So, did you get it?
2. Verb patterns: guess the lie
Students have been learning different verb patterns (see grammar focus box). After doing some practice exercises they do exercise 5 (see box), writing five sentences about themselves using the verb patterns they’ve been practicing, with one of those sentences being false. Then they mingle and find a partner: they read their sentences out and their partner tries to guess which sentence is a lie (not by saying “Number 2!” but by asking eg. ‘Do you really enjoy collecting stamps?). Once partners have guessed each other’s lie, they find a new partner.
We can add a scoring element here: 5 points if you get it right first guess, 4 points if you get it right second guess etc. Of course, the more partners you speak to, the more points you can potentially win, motivating students to speak to ask many classmates as possible within the time allowed.
3) Present perfect: guess the question
Students have been studying the present perfect simple and continuous. After some practice exercises, they need to write questions in both tenses based on prompts then ask their partner (exercise 7).
Follow up: individually, come up with some more questions similar to those in exercise 7. Answer them. Read your answers to your partner, who tries to guess the questions. Then swap, then swap partners.
There you have it: three activities to practice grammar orally that include a guessing element. What are your favourite exercises to practice grammar orally?
Examples taken from Exam Focus, an Upper Secondary course that prepares students for success in University Entrance Exams!
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