Entertaining ways of revising
Revise, Remember, Use
Have you ever experienced the pain of endless revision lessons with doing numerous vocabulary and grammar exercises? Sounds like a nightmare all of us would like to avoid. Let’s save the pain to our students and make revision classes an exciting and joyful event. Let’s really engage our students and offer them activities they would love. It’s not always easy to come up with great ideas of games and other activities for learners, but here I have some suggestions for our students to enjoy and for teachers to successfully use.
Pass the parcel
A great game to revise vocabulary of any kind. A teacher has to prepare a set of small cards with a word on each of them and put them into a paper bag or a small cardboard box beforehand. Each student picks one card and says the meaning of the word written on it. If they are right, they can keep the card and pass the parcel to another student sitting next to them. If they don’t know the word or give a wrong answer, they put the card back into the parcel. You can play one round only, but the more rounds you play the greater fun and competitive spirit among students. Students who have managed to collect the most cards must be rewarded, you can give them marks or pluses. With more advanced groups, you can try whole expressions instead of words or English explanation instead of translation.
A surprisingly joyful activity for everyone, even for older teenagers. The idea is that one of the students says a word or a full sentence on a given subject (from a chosen part of material, vocabulary they have just learnt or you want to revise). Next student repeats the word or sentence and adds their own one, another one repeats both of them and adds their own and so on.
Example 1: The goal is to revise names of shops and items you can buy there. One student says “I went to the green grocer’s to buy some onions.” The other repeats “I went to the green grocer’s to buy some onions and to the card shop to buy a birthday card.” And it continues until the last person have repeated everything.
Example 2: To revise vegetables or any other range of vocabulary. One student says “carrot”, the other repeats “carrot and parsley”, another says “carrot, parsley and garlic” and so on.
Works well with groups from several to a dozen or so people. The more students, the greater fun, but in small groups you can arrange more than one round. It’s a simple game that does not need any special preparations, but brings unexpectedly lots of pleasure and excitement even to secondary school students. Amazingly, I noticed that weaker students, who usually avoid taking active part in classes, really enjoy it and usually do really well. There is not always enough time to play it till you get one winner, but if so remember about a reward for the winner or winners!
It’s a great way to revise tenses. Divide your students into groups of three or four. On the board, attach a set of pictures cut out from newspapers and magazines for each group. It would be great to differentiate the photos in each set, e.g. choose pictures of people, places, different items. Then ask groups to create a story that includes all the words form the pictures. You should set a time limit and ask students to write down their story and then present it. While presenting they can point at the picture they are talking about. You can use this idea to practice past and present tenses, it’s ideal to practice Past Simple and Past Continuous. One of the variations to make the game funnier is to ask students to put all the words in one sentence.
What would you do if?
It’s an activity to revise second conditional and also a chosen range of vocabulary. You will need cards with second conditional questions, e.g. “What would you do if you saw your little brother smoking cigarettes on his way to school?”, “Would you tell your teacher if you saw your classmate cheating in the exam? “or “How would you react if you saw a man trying to steal a wallet from somebody’s pocket on a bus?”
The vocabulary and topics of the questions could be based on the previous lessons and could be a vocabulary revision at the same time, but remember that the more intriguing and engaging the questions, the greater excitement and involvement of the students. Distribute the cards to your students and give them some time to think of the answers. The time limit depends on the number of questions. Then, there is time to present the answers. There are different variations:
- You can ask each student to present their answers to the whole group or you can ask them to ask and answer the questions in pairs or small groups and monitor their work.
- You may arrange them to ask the questions to any other student in the class. Can be really funny as they usually know each other really well and know who to choose to answer a particular question.
In my view, all the above presented games and activities could be undoubtedly successfully use in a lesson. They make students involved in what they are doing and what follows, remember and use the material. It is also worth mentioning that all of the students become involved, nobody is excluded so it’s a perfect method to activate everyone, even those who rarely take active part in classes.