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Woody 06-25-2008 07:38 PM

I love Scrabble. My students do, too. But, it can be difficult for them to form cool new words when their vocabulary is limited. Usually they aim for tiny words - three letters, etc. Plus, it usually turns into more of a "hanging" out time than a conversation class.

They get better when I walk around the room and help them... or I will let them use the dictionary. But does anyone know of a more effective way to use Scrabble as a fun game that will help grow the vocabulary of everyone?

Also, I thought I might share some games people might be interested in where people do more than roll the dice, but actually have to talk. They help build vocabulary:

1. Apples to Apples - a great way to teach new adjectives!

2. Why Did the Chicken? - students have to make random jokes

3. Boggle - We all know this one

4. Werewolf - it's like Mafia

5. Boulder Dash - I think I might have spelled it wrong, but it's where there are three definitions and you have to pick out the correct one. Normally the English words are hard, so I have tailored this to vocab in a story we discuss and make up my own definitions (this can be a little time consuming with prep). In order to get an extra point, I require the students to identify the part speech with respect to the context of the story (I will read word in a sentence from the story). Students get competitive!

6. Hangman - It's very time consuming, though... and slow.

Feel free to add to the list.

Maria 06-27-2008 10:23 PM

Vocab and Games
Thanks for the list of games, Woody. I've never heard if Werewolf- or Mafia! I've never used Scrabble with a class precisely for the reason you mentioned, and I would love to hear if anyone has found a way to adapt it for learners.

I've used Pictionary before, the game where students rapid draw what a card tells them to draw and others guess as they draw. It's quite good for vocab as students are spitting out words and yelling at each other for a translation so they can get words out.

I'm also interested in trying out those role playing murder mystery games that occur at some parties in the US. The "host" assigns everyone a role. Each goes into character and tries to find out which among them is the killer. It's all oral skills and lots of fun. This site has a sampling of games to sell, in case someone doesn't know what I'm referring to.

This site has some short role play activities for ESL:
http://eslsite.com/resources/pages/R...nd_Role_Plays/ I've used Alibi in class with great success.

Sam Simian 06-29-2008 10:20 PM

Dear Woody,

I have often used an extremely modified version of Cranium. I won’t explain the original version, but you do need to be familiar with it, so look at this site:

It’s easier to just buy a game to modify — that’s what I’ve done, but that isn’t necessary; you could make your own. You will only need a board, game pieces, paper or a white board to draw on, and a die. You will not need the cards; you are going to make your own. The Wikipedia page has a very detailed picture of the board, and I think that it would be fairly easy to make a DIY version based on it. The Cranium die is cooler than a regular die (and it better suits the game), but you could use a regular die and assign a different color to each number — for example, 1 = red, 2 = yellow, 3 = green, 4 = blue, 5 = purple (a brain), and 6 = roll again.

Divide the class into teams. (There can be up to four teams.) Assign a different category to each color: red, yellow, green, and blue. I use it for review, and I like my games (and my classes) to be a combination of serious learning and goofy fun, so I mix the two up. Here’s an example of categories that I’ve used with one of my classes (a level 2 class in a program that has 5 levels):
RED (“factoid-ish”): Correct the mistake in the sentence on the whiteboard.
YELLOW (spelling): Without writing anything or using any other aid, spell a word forwards or backwards. (The point of backward spelling is to “handicap teams” — by making the spelling harder — and to induce mistakes that cause good-natured fun.)
GREEN (pictionary): Without speaking or writing any words, draw pictures to elicit the comparative on the card — for example, A is bigger than B, X is more intelligent than Y, or 1 is sexier than 2. (You may, or may not, want to restrict the students’ ability to point to things or people in the classroom.)
BLUE (charades): Without speaking or writing any words (It’s OK to make sounds), elicit the place on the card — for example, a laundromat, a hospital, or an amusement park.

In my experience, this extremely modified version of Cranium is easy to adapt to your level and what you’ve been teaching, it’s a good way to review what you’ve taught, it does not take much prep’ time, it’s inexpensive or free, and it makes students both learn and laugh uncontrollably. In other words, I think it’s great game to use in your class. Give it a try.

Sam Simian

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