The week before exams I tried out a variation on Running Dictation, a game that has apparently been an ESL staple for a long time. The basic idea is that you have two partners - a writer and a runner. The writer is stationary, while the runner has to run (surprise) to a piece of writing on the other side of the room, memorize it piece by piece, and feed it to writer who (you guessed it) writes it down. It elicits lots of communication in English between the students, which doesn’t happen much. (They communicate in English with me, of course, but rarely with each other, as my school is not big on group work.) It also lets them use a lot of pent-up energy after spending every waking moment studying at a desk. Overall it’s a great game, and since the students had exams coming up, I didn’t want to burn them out on new material. The biggest problem for me is that my classes are just under 40 students each, and I am not fool enough to think I can control 20 students running around at the same time.
So, I turned the game into a relay. Five teams, one writer, lots of group cooperation. The prize was candy or chocolate (this is apparently a VERY important distinction) for the winning team, which means instant motivation - these kids will cheerfully murder each other for a Hershey’s Kiss or a sucker, and they LOVE American candy. I gave a bonus point to the first team to finish, and one point for every accurate sentence. If they made a mistake, I pointed it out and explained why it was wrong (usually they knew and noticed it before I did). I subtracted points for cheating and horsing around in line. I also offered a bonus point to any team who could solve the riddles they were transcribing. Here are the two I picked:
One night, a father and his son were hungry.
They went to their favorite restaurant.
They ate dinner together in the restaurant.
They ate sushi, spicy noodles, and rice.
The son drank cider, but the father drank a lot of soju.
Soon the father was a little bit too drunk.
He did not think he could drive his car.
So the son decided he could drive the car.
Unfortunately, the son was not a good driver.
He crashed the car into a tree.
The son was very hurt, but the father was okay.
The father took his son to a hospital.
The doctor saw them both and said:
“Oh no! What happened to my son?”
Who is the doctor?
A man lived alone in an apartment.
His home was on the very highest floor.
Every morning he rode the elevator down.
He usually rode the elevator alone.
Then he walked alone to his work.
Every night he came home from work.
He waited near the elevator on the first floor.
He sometimes waited a very long time.
He waited for another person to com.
He never rode the elevator up alone.
If another person came, they rode up together.
If no one came, he walked up the stairs.
On rainy days, the man carried an umbrella.
With an umbrella, he could go up the elevator alone.
Why could the man ride down alone, but not up?
They used a lot of target language we’ve been working on all semester, like location/direction words, frequency adverbs, “if” clauses, and simple past tense. I also had a simpler version for lower-level classes. The class in these photos is my favorite in the whole school. They are extremely bright, extremely good-natured, and eager to please. This particular lesson was a lot more laid-back than it was with my other classes, since these students are also very good at following directions. I didn’t even have to take points away!
I also have a ton of video of this game, but somehow I can’t get any it to play. I’ll see if Mike can fix it and try to get it up as soon as possible. I also want to point out that this class was held in the “English room,” rather than in one of the regular classrooms. I don’t usually use it because there are no desks.