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ConFluency-Inspired Classroom Activities

  On this page you'll find classroom activities for teaching, practicing and testing English or any other foreign language, and that also teach and practice the ConFluency and Life Long Learning skills.

  The success of the ConFluency Card Games in my classes has led me to create or rework my other activities to support the students in learning the same Conversaton Skills as the card games teach. A great example is when I saw the Q-Cards activity demonstrated for the first time. I noticed immediately it's power to teach and practice the same conversation skills, easily and everyday. I have adapted that original activity to fulfill my needs in the classroom.


Hot Potato

Small Group Creative Substitution Drills for Sentences or Questions.
materials: prepared sentences or questions, timer
time: 10-15 minutes

  For each of 3-6 rounds, write a sentence, a question or a short 2 person dialog on the blackboard, and underline one word or phrase for students to change with their own word or phrase (I always use the same colored chalk for this). Make successive sentences/questions/dialogs varied, and/or a little more difficult. Two parts to change for the last pattern give the students a fun challenge.
  In groups of 3 or 4 (small groups give each student more chances to speak), the beginning student says the target pattern on the blackboard, then passes a pen case, or other hot potato, to the next student. If the pattern is a question, the next student must first answer the question before making a new question and passing the hot potato. If the target pattern is a sentence, the next student makes a new sentence before passing the hot potato. Students continue like this in a circle until the time limit is reached (1 minute to 1 minute 20 seconds for short patterns, up to 2 minutes 15 seconds for dialogs). Use a count-down timer that beeps loudly when the time has finished.
  If you use points in the classroom for motivation, all the students can start with 5 points, and the losing student (those holding the hot potato when the time has finished) lose one point.

Example rounds for one activity:

  • Have you ever been to Kyoto?
  • I have never seen an alien. How about you? Me, either./ I have seen an alien before.
  • Kenta has played gate ball many times.
  • How many times have you climbed Mt. Fuji?I have climbed Mt. Fuji once.

 

Interview Bingo

materials: Interview Bingo print for each student (see sidebar for downloads)
time: 15-20 minutes

  Interview Bingo is a substitution activity that is played with all class members standing, interacting in pairs. The game can be used for yes/no or wh- question patterns, or for statement and response. Because there are 25 places for answers on the bingo print, it works very well for vocabulary introduction and practice. For lower level students, using pictures, or pictures and words, on the print aids understanding and comprehension. See the sidebar for examples and a blank formated bingo print to download.

  Interview bingo, being similar to an information-gap activity, is by its' nature communicative. Choosing the dialog used by the students, though, is what can give them, or not, a feeling for the meaning of the language. Choose your dialog thoughtfully and carefully!

Doing the Activity

  • Preview the vocabulary on print, and the conversation used for play.
  • Each student must circle one answer on each horizontal line. Have them do this while previewing the vocabulary.
  • Do a testing activity to check students’ comprehension and accuracy (CROSSFIRE, or choosing students randomly or with dice).
  • Let students practice playing/using the dialog once with their seat partner, then ask if there are any questions.
  • With all students standing, students make pairs and play Janken/RPS. In most cases, the winner begins the conversation.
  • Using their circled answer, the losing student (usually) answers using the conversation.
  • Winning student makes an X on the given answer (only X’s make a BINGO!).
  • Students separate and form new pairs.
  • Game is finished at a time limit, or when several students have made BINGO!

 

Plus/Minus Sugoroku

  A classic Japanese small group board game activity. In this adaptation, it is suitable for Yes/No Questions. Sentences can be used, but the appropriate responses might be "Me, too!"/"Not me." or "I do, too!"/"I don't."

materials for each group: +/- Sugoroku game board print, double set of Sugoroku cards, and one die (dice).

time: 15-25 minutes, plus time for a how-to-play explanation.

  This is my version of the classic Japanese board game. Japanese students probably already know the basic rules.In this version there are two sets of cards for each group. In the examples for download on the right, one card set is a variety of verb phrases, like watch TV, and the other set is a variety of past tense time words or phrases, like yesterday and last week.

  After rolling the die and moving his/her marker forward on the game board, the playing student draws one of each card. This student uses the two cards to make/say a question (Did you watch TV last week?), and then chooses any one of the other students to answer. The students count together "1-2-3" and then answer out loud 'Yes' or 'No'. THE QUESTIONING STUDENT SAYS WHAT THEY THINK THE OTHER STUDENT WILL ANSWER (ie., DOES NOT ANSWER THEIR OWN QUESTION). If the two students both say 'Yes' or 'No', then the questioning student moves his/her marker the + indicated spaces on the game board. If the two students' answers are not the same, then the questioning student moves his/her marker the - indicated spaces on the game board.
The game is finished when any player reaches the GOAL, or time is finished. If you have extra time at the end of the class, students can continue playing from GOAL back to START.

 

Get the Picture (GTP)

Get The Picture (GTP) is a substitution activity that is played with all class members standing, interacting in pairs. It can be used for statement-and-response ("I play baseball." "Me, too.") and yes/no question-and-answer patterns.

materials: A strip of paper with the same 4 or 5 pictures for each student.
Alternately, one cut paper for each student.
Sets of 3-5 papers have the same picture, word, letters, etc.
time:10-15 minutes

  Get the Picture works very well with beginning students in a speak- and-respond pattern (“A-B-C?”-->“X-Y-Z.” or, ”I play baseball.”-->“Me, too.”/ “I don’t”.). It also works well for simple substitution question-and-answer patterns (“Do you play baseball?” --> “No, I don’t.” or, “Do you have an apple?”--> “Yes, I do.”)

Playing the game using 4 or 5 pictures per student:

  All students are given a strip of paper with 4 or 5 pictures. Each student cuts the paper to separate the pictures.
After introducing and practicing the structure/dialog to be used, and then checking student accuracy, all students stand and randomly form pairs.
  Paired students play janken/RPS, and (usually) the winner speaks first (in this way getting a chance to take, or get, the other student's picture. See an example dialog in the sidebar on the right). The losing student responds using the dialog, according to the picture cards held in his/her hands. If the losing student has the picture card indicated by the first student’s speech, this card is then delivered to the winning student. If not, the losing student may get a chance to use the dialog to take one of the winner's cards, or the two say 'Good-bye' and separate. After separating the students form new pairs with other students.
  The goal of the game is to have the most cards at the end of playing time.

Playing the game with only one picture per student:

  Prepare a picture card to give to each student in the class. There should be 3-5 cards with the same picture (cat, for example); there will be several groups in a large class (cat, dog & fish, for example). After playing janken/RPS, if the losing student responds with the same speech as the winning student (W:I like cats. L: I like cats), these students form a group (the cat group). The goal of the game is to find the other members of your group.
  The grouped students continue to play with other students/groups.
Groups of students with the same card write their card/group name on the blackboard (cat), and are acknowledged as winners at the end of play time.

 

CROSSFIRE
Full Class Testing or Listen-and-Respond Activity
materials:
prepared sentences or questions, or make them up as you go
time: 5-15 minutes

  CROSSFIRE is a testing activity that needs to be used judiciously. As a game, it can be quite fun for the students (especially those sitting and watching). Students intuitively understand the testing nature of the activity, however; many students just don’t like to be one of a few students standing while all the others are sitting and watching. For the teacher, though, it is very convenient for checking students' oral production accuracy: for example, after introducing or practicing some words, structures or gestures, and before moving into an activity that doesn’t allow for direct teacher error surveillance. We often play CROSSFIRE before playing the ConFluency Card Game.

  All of the language skills contained in Card Sets One and Two can be practiced in CROSSFIRE (click to see a list of the Conversation Skills). It's easy if you use the same Skills Posting Cards from the Q-Card and S-Card activity. Practicing the Conversation Skills in CROSSFIRE, and calling them by the same name used on the ConFluency Cards, prepares the students to play the card game. It also helps them to learn and practice the Life-Long Language Learning Skills and skills that lead to conversational fluency.

HOW TO PLAY CROSSFIRE

  With the classroom set up with the desks in rows, choose one row -either front-to-back or side-to-side- to stand. After the teacher says a sentence or asks a question, the student with the first hand up can respond. If the response is correct, this student may sit down (if incorrect, the student remains standing, and the next fastest student may respond). This pattern continues until there is one original student standing. At this time, the line of students ninety-degrees opposed to the original line and containing the last standing student, stand and become the responders.

  Continue play until the students sufficiently understand the correct patterns for responding to be able to continue to the next activity.

CROSSFIRE PATTERNS

  • (Teacher -> Student)
  • Question -> Answer
  • Question -> A + 1 Answer
  • Question -> Answer (+1) & Repeat the Same Question
  • Question -> Answer (+1) & Ask Another Question
  • (Teacher 1) Question -> (Teacher 2) Answer (+1) -> (Student) Follow-Up Question
  • Question -> Answer (+1) -> (Teacher) Pardon? -> (Student) Repeat
  • Sentence -> Say the Same Sentence (Listen -> Repeat, or L & R. Great for introducing new patterns.)
  • Sentence -> Say Another Sentence
  • Sentence -> Say Another Sentence -> (Teacher) Pardon? -> (Student) Repeat

 

Scrambled English

Small group testing activity for sentences or questions. Can be done with one teacher, but much easier with two.
materials: Whiteboard, marker and eraser for each group. Prepared sentences or questions, or make them up as you go
time: 15-20 minutes

  The teacher writes a sentence or question on a whiteboard with the words in scrambled order (dog I eat don't). One student in each group writes the sentence or question in correct order, with correct punctuation (remember, this is a test!) on the group whiteboard. When finished writing, the students hold the whiteboard up for the teacher to see. After all groups have finished, write the correct sentence or question of the blackboard. All students listen and repeat after the teacher, and a student translates. We usually score 3 points for the first correct answer, 2 for the second, and 1 for all others.

  As a further challenge for the students, you can include one extra word on the teacher's whiteboard (He dog I eat don't). The students don't write this one word on their whiteboards. 

 

O-X Activity
an all-class, pattern- & meaning-focused introduction and practice activity
*THIS IS A POWRFUL TEACHING AND PRACTICE ACTIVITY-
LEARN TO USE IT WELL, AND USE IT OFTEN!

*Listen, Repeat, Respond, Repeat, Answer & Score*

target patterns: sentences, yes/no & wh- questions (see Hints, below)
time: 2-10 minutes
materials: 2 dice (to choose a student randomly)

For Sentences: 
Ready (optional, but suggested for elementary classes):
-WRITE a target sentence or question pattern on the blackboard, underlining or using a different color chalk for the part/parts that will be changed.
or, DISPLAY the 1 Point English text poster.
Play:
-CHOOSE a student with the dice.
-SAY a sentence aloud.
-All students REPEAT.
-All students RESPOND-raise hand for ‘O’, or don’t for ‘X’.
-SAY the sentence again.
-Students REPEAT.
-Chosen student ANSWERS- ‘O’ or ‘X’.
-Correct students SCORE a point (chosen student, too).

For Yes/No Questions:  
Play:
-WRITE and PRACTICE answer patterns on blackboard.
-ASK a question.
-All students REPEAT.
-CHOOSE an answering student with the dice.
-ASK the question again.
-All students REPEAT again.
-All students RESPOND by raising hands (‘O’) or not (‘X’) to guess the chosen student’s answer.
-ASK the question again, to the chosen student.
-The chosen student ANSWERS.
-Correct students SCORE a point (chosen student, too).

Hints:

  • be creative with play style and language use.  for example, when teaching the pronouns he and she, ask the student a question, or use a sentence, using the student’s name.  then, ask the same student a second question, or a second sentence, using he or she in the question or statement.  when teaching we, first ask the chosen student a question, or say a sentence.  then the second time, stand next to the student, use the same language, except use we for the subject.  or, you can use a second student: after asking the first student a question, or saying a sentence about the student, use the same sentence, except use they, indicating the first student and second student.
  • if you use english names for the students, this is a good time to practice ‘What’s your English name?’ before making a question/sentence about that student.
  • for Wh- questions that don’t have a yes/no answer (for example, ‘What color do you like?’), put two (or more) choices for the chosen student to answer from on the blackboard (I like blue.  /  I like red.)  This will also show the students a written model of the correct answer form.

 

Find 3 People 

materials: target sentence and return comment, or
question & answer pattern
time: 5-10 minutes (with writing, 10-20 min.)
group size: pairs-row rotations, or free moving
       
Ready-
-WRITE A SENTENCE-AND-COMMENT* or QUESTION-AND-ANSWER PATTERN ON THE BLACKBOARD.  UNDERLINE or WRITE IN A DIFFERENT COLOR the part that the students will change.
-* teachers here choose what language the students respond with.  for example, W)‘I play tennis.’ --> L)‘I don’t play tennis.’ or L)‘I play tennis, too.’
-writing/testing option--students write the sentence-and-comment or question-and-answer patterns in their notebooks (or elsewhere) for checking before the next speaking activity. You could first write the patterns in Japanese on the blackboard.
-Students think of an original sentence or question based on the given pattern.

Play-
-With all students standing, PAIRS PLAY JANKEN, and winner says/reads his/her sentence or question.  Janken loser responds or answers, using the teacher-chosen language (above *).
-GOAL of the pair activity is to find 3 students with a Yes or No answer (teacher chooses before starting); +,too. or +don’t response; or for Wh- questions, an answer pre-chosen by each student.
-When a student has found 3 of the target answers/responses, he or she returns to their desk and sits down. 

Hints/Options-

  • Communicative ability testing option--When a student has found his/her 3 people, he or she must come to the teacher and perform the dialog before sitting down.
  • Pattern accuracy testing option--Students answering the target responses form a group.  When a group of 3 has been formed, they come to the teacher.  The teacher can choose a variety of options here.  For example, when studying subject pronouns, each of the students can say, ‘I play soccer.  He plays soccer.  She plays soccer.  We play soccer.  They play soccer.’
  • If points are awarded, students get one point for each janken win.
  • For classes that don’t interact well in a free-moving activity like this, have the students Janken Conversation Round style-- seat pairs playing janken, and one side rotating back one seat after their conversation is finished.



Pair Slap

materials: target sentence or question-and-answer pattern

time: 2-10 minutes

group size: seat pairs
        

For SENTENCES & NEGATIVES
Ready-
-All students stand in seat pairs.  One student is designated as student A, the other, student B.
-WRITE TWO SENTENCES on the blackboard.  The two sentences should be similiar, for example, A-‘I like tennis.’ and B-‘I play tennis.’ or A-‘I like pink.’ and B-‘I like blue.’
 

Play- for listening accuracy
-A-students first repeat the A sentence after the teacher, then B-students repeat the B sentence.
-Paired students face each other, each holding one hand out as if shaking hands, BUT the 2 students’ hands are held 10-15 cm. apart.
-Teacher says, ‘READY!’ and reads one of the sentences aloud.
-If the A sentence is read aloud, the A-student tries to slap the other student’s hand (winning).  The B-student, though, tries to pull his or her hand away before it is slapped (winning).

Play- for translation
-Teacher writes ONE sentence on the blackboard, in English or in Japanese.
-All students repeat.
-One of the pair (the A or B student) is told to slap if the translation is correct.  The other student is told to slap if the translation is not correct.  (on the blackboard-  A-O     B-X ).
-Teacher says, ‘READY!’ and reads the sentence aloud.
if points are awarded, correctly guessing students get one point for each correct guess.

Hints/Options- 

  • For classes that don’t interact well in a free-moving activity like this, have the students Janken Conversation Round style-- seat pairs playing janken, and one side rotating back one seat after their conversation is finished.



Liar! Liar!
a meaning-focused sentence pair practice activity
(with a time-adding writing/testing option)

materials: target sentence pattern, and return comment
time: 5-10 minutes (with writing, 15-20 min.)

Ready- 

-Write a sentence pattern on the blackboard.  the part that the students will change should be written in a different color, or underlined.  Write also the partner’s return pattern *.
-* teachers here can choose what language the students react with.  for example, ‘I play tennis.’ --> ‘You play tennis?’ or     -->‘Liar! You don’t play tennis!’ or -->‘I think you don’t play tennis’ or -->‘Do you really play tennis?’, etc.

-Students think of two sentences in this target pattern-one TRUE and one FALSE.

-Writing/testing option--students write the sentences in their notebooks (or elsewhere) for checking before the next speaking activity.
 

Play- 

-With all students standing, pairs play janken, and loser says/reads their two sentences aloud.  janken winner must guess which is the FALSE statement, using the teacher-chosen language (above *).

-If points are awarded, correctly guessing students get one point for each correct guess.

Hints-
For classes that don’t interact well in a free-moving activity like this, have the students move in their seating rows, seat pairs playing janken, and one side rotating back one seat after their conversation is finished.

Activities on this Page
 
For Teaching:
 
O/X (Maru-Batsu) Game

  a full class listen-and-respond activity for introducing or reviewing Yes/No questions or sentences.
 
 
For Practicing: 
 
Find 3 People
  a pair activity for sentences and yes/no questions.  a great end-of-class consolidation activity!

Liar! Liar!
 
  a pair activity for sentences.  a fun, meaning-centered consolidation activity!
 
 
Hot Potato
 
  a small group creative substitution activity. a real crowd-pleaser!


Interview Bingo
 
  a dialog-based pair activity with the whole class standing.
 
 
Plus-Minus Sugoroku

  a small group board game. this is my own twist on a Japanese classic, making it truly communicative.
 
Get The Picture (GTP)
 
  a dialog-based pair activity with the whole class standing.
 

For Testing:
 
CROSSFIRE
 
  a full class listen-and-respond testing activity for questions or sentences. great for testing the Conversation Skills!

Pair Slap
 
  a pair testing activity for sentences or questions.  
 
Scrambled English
 
  a small group testing activity for sentences or questions. a student favorite!


Links to Activity Materials

  All downloads in .pdf format. 

Interview Bingo 

  In the dialogs given W is the Janken or RPS winner, L is the loser.

  All are Interview Bingo prints; the grammar focus is used for the title.

How's the Weather in ~ ? 

W: How (is / was) the weather in ~ ? or How will the weather be in = ?

L: It (is / was) cloudy and hot. or

It will be cloudy and hot.

Shopping Bingo

dialog is written on the print 


Plus-Minus Sugoroku 

+/- Sugoroku Game Board 

 The game board.  Print and copy one for each group. 

Past Tense Card Set #1

Past Tense Card Set #2

  Print these two sets on different colored paper for easy use!

 

Get The Picture (GTP) 

  The grammar focus is used for the title.

  In the dialogs given W is the Janken or RPS winner, L is the loser.

Are You From ~ ?

W: Are you from China?

L1: Yes, I am.  Here you are!

L2: No, I'm not.  Are you from Japan?

W1: Yes, I am.  Here you are!

W2: No, I'm not.  Bye!