How To Add More Fun To Your Language Lessons

 
 Photo by  Grace Ho

Photo by Grace Ho

 
 

When people have fun, they are so much more likely to want to return to that experience. And, they will be more likely to share that experience with others.

Don’t you wish that your language class could be one such experience?

Well, you can. In a previous article, I addressed strategies to get students moving in a language class. If you pair those strategies with what I’ll address below, you will have your students looking forward to you class, and asking for you as a teacher. If that is not the case, contact me with this form. I would be happy to problem solve any issues with you.

Questions As A Board Game

You and I both know that questions on a worksheet are boring, and they often mean that students must work independently.

For this activity, you’ll need to put the practice questions in a board game format. Be sure to assign random points to each box. I use 1, 2, and 3. Students will play in pairs, and you’ll need one die per pair of students. If all of your students have devices in class, there are apps that simulate rolling dice. Alternatively they can use the website random.org.

Students will take turns rolling the die, moving the corresponding spaces, and answering the question in that box. The student who answers the question will need to write the answer, and initial that box. The two students alternate rolling the die and answering the questions until they reach the end of the game.

Only when they reach the end, they need to get the answers to the board game. I would keep copies of the answers on my desk, and make sure students showed me their finished game so that they could get the answers.

The first step in checking the work is for each student to total their score for all of the questions that they answered. Then they need to see what they got right and wrong. For each answer they get correct, they get an extra point. For each answer they get wrong, they loose a point. Whomever of the pair gets the most points wins.

You can reward the winning students how you see fit. I would give a nominal amount of extra points to another assignment.

Flashcards Game For Vocabulary

You tell me any name of a large publisher’s language textbook, and I guarantee that the end of each chapter has between 30 and 60 vocabulary words that the students need to learn. A lot of inexperienced teachers make students copy these lists onto paper so the students can get a first glance at the vocabulary.

But would you want to copy a list of 50 words that are in a textbook. Umm….. no. Neither do your students.

This activity turns that list of vocabulary words into a game. You will need all of the words for the unit on flashcards where the words is one side and the definition or translation is on the other side. You will need copies of the flashcards so that each student in your largest class can have 10 flashcards.

When I taught out of Holt Exprésate, each chapter had two lists of about 50 words. I would put these lists into Quizlet, which would allow me to print flashcards. If you want to copy what I did, I would print with the “large” format. I generally had to make 6 or 7 copies of these printed flashcards in order for my class of 35 students to be able to have 10 cards each. Once I had the copies, I would use a paper cutter to cut the flashcards along the solid line. Then I would mix up all of the strips of words and definitions and put them in a basket.

To set up this activity, desks need to be in rows, and students need to work with someone next to them, and each pairs’ desks needed to be pushed together.

After all the cards were passed out so that each student had 10, they need to fold them so all the cards are facing the same way.

To play the game, Partner A started by holding up one vocabulary word, and Partner B needed to say the definition or translation. If the Partner B got it right, they got the card. If the Partner B got it wrong, Partner A kept the card.

Then Partner B showed Partner A a card. If Partner A got the answer right, they got the card. If not, Partner B got the card. The partners kept alternating showing each other flashcards until they heard music playing.

As the teacher, I would watch the class and when one or two sets of pairs finish their cards, I would play music on Pandora or Spotify.

This music signaled to the students that they needed to stop quizzing each other, and count up how many cards they had. The person in the pair with the most cards stood up and moved one person forward. The person in the pair with least amount of cards stayed seated. When all students had time to make this switch, as the teacher, I would stop playing music.

All students now had new partners to work with, and they continued the above described process of alternating showing flashcards to their partners, and gaining more cards as they got definitions or translations correct.

Again, I would play the music telling the students to move. In total students could expect to work with four or five partners during this activity and it gave them a no-stress way to get exposed to vocabulary and have some fun while doing so.

To debrief this activity, I would often ask students to raise their hands if the ended up with 5 cards, 10 cards, 15 cards, 20 cards. This gave students an opportunity to share their accomplishments.

I could also regularly follow this game with a white board review described in this article. This would give me a chance to check for how well each student knew this new vocabulary.

Games On Quizlet

I am devoting the entire section to Quizlet, because I think the app deserves the attention. My former students have told me that Quizlet was one of their favorite things about all of their classes. One student told me that he found himself studying for my class on Quizlet when he had down time throughout the day. And this was a student who had previously been struggling in my class.

Once you upload your own content to Quizlet, the app offers three type of games that can be played with that content: Match, Gravity, and Live. The app will also tell you what the best score is for all the members of that specific class. This adds an element of fun to the games.

I would often assign students homework as a game on Quizlet. This got them doing their homework, and got them practicing for my class in a non-stressful way.

Summing It Up

These are only a few ways to breath some fun into your world languages class. As I said in the introduction, pairing these strategies with these kinesthetic activities, your class will not look anything like a traditional education.

I can’t wait for you to get started with these strategies, because our students should all have a reason to be excited about education.