Form a sequence of chained sentences by using the last word of a previous sentence as the first word of the next sentence.
You can use this activity to show that not every word that ends an English sentence can start one.
This is a great ice-breaker game or even something that can be used at the beginning of every class as a warm up.
Objective(s) of activity:
Take turns to form sentences. However, there are two rules:
One, the last word in the previous sentence must be used as the first word in the next sentence.
Two, the new sentence must be longer than the previous sentence.
You can involve the whole class in this activity one student at a time.
Start with a simple sentence with a subject verb and an object.
Eg. ‘John saw Mary.’
Now it is the next person’s turn to form a sentence. But you have to use the last word of the previous sentence and the sentence must be longer.
This shows a possible sequence of turns.
A: ‘Mary kicked those balls.
B: ‘Balls are fun to play with.’
C: ‘With a key, John opened the door.’
Now notice that the next person, D, is going to find it difficult to form a sentence. This is because just the word ‘Door’ cannot be used to start English sentences
You can thus relax the rules a little to allow modifications of the last word.
In this example, the type of modification you can add is a determiner like ‘the’ or you can make it a plural.
Eg. The door or Doors
These are much easier to start English sentences with.
The same type of problem arises in the following sequence.
A: John slept
It is not possible to form English sentences with ‘Slept’. Thus you can allow ‘Slept’ to be changed as well. One way to change it is to ‘Sleeping
Now B can respond with something like: ‘Sleeping in is fun’.
Notes for scaling up/ down difficulty:
This game is challenging as is and does not require much more ramping up.
However, if you are playing this game with less proficient ESL students, they may struggle with coming up sentences.
In this case, you can remove the second rule of requiring that subsequent sentences be longer.
However, you have to be careful not to fall into a stalemate like this exchange.
A: John saw Mary.
B: Mary saw John.
C: John liked Mary.
D: Mary kissed John.
How long a sentence did you come up with? Share your longest sequence of sentences in the comments.
This activity is an essential part of the ESL teacher’s toolkit. Improvisation and role play are great ways to get ESL learners to practice English in a semi-naturalistic setting. Vary the settings and number of participants for optimal immersion.
Objective(s) of activity:
The primary objective is to immerse your ESL students into naturalistic settings that they are familiar with so that they can practice using the nuances of the English language.
Specific directions and notes:
1) Be prepared before class and think of a number of scenarios beforehand with the requisite number of people. Have different scenarios for different numbers of participants.
Some possible scenarios involving two individuals are the following:
a) An interaction between a superhero and the villain
b) A retail interaction (eg. a fish monger and a customer)
c) A parent and child
d) Teacher and student
e) Policeman and interrogated criminal
2) You have to make sure that there is an objective for each interaction that is known to all participants in the role play. Eg. the objective of a retail transaction is to successfully exchange the right amount of money for a certain produce/ service.
3) Intervene as little as possible, except to prompt students to stay on objective for that role play.
4) If students are stuck on certain phrases, allow the use of their native language. The aim (at least in the beginning) is to provide students an opportunity to practice code switching with ease. Of course, you do not want students to use their native languages predominantly.
5) Encourage your students to speak in full sentences. Do not worry about whether the sentences are grammatical.
6) You can make the activity more fun by using different voices for different characters. (eg. deeper voice for the villain)
Notes for scaling up difficulty:
As the students become more proficient, you can come up with scenarios involving more individuals.
This will give your students more practice with turn taking, looking for discourse cues and so on.
You can have individuals enter and leave the role play as well. For example, while two individuals are speaking, you can have a third individual interject with a delivery.
You can build complexity to your scenarios this way.
Share with me your scenarios and how your students did!