Level: strong elementary to advanced.
Scope: teens to adults.
Type: board game.
Skills: speaking and listening (student conversations).
Language focus: “going to” and “will” future forms; and and all future forms revision.
Materials: if you use the board as a board game, you will need – copies of the board game, one per group of 4 or 5 students; a coin or die per group of 4 or 5 students (coins are generally work better here, as the activity will last longer); counters or bits of coloured paper, one per student.
Otherwise you will need just one copy of the board game (for yourself, or to cut up) and some blu-tack if you’re going to stick the sentence stems around your classroom walls.
Preparation: depending on which activity you use (see below), you may need to prepare 5 sentences about you before class, or cut up the board and paste the different sentence stems around your classroom.
Note: this game usually works best as a free practice activity, either after your students have been introduced to uses of “going to” and “will” when talking about the future and perhaps had some controlled practice of these forms, or as a more general future forms revision activity.
There are many ways you could use this board game – here are four ideas:
1. As a dictation activity
- Before the lesson, choose five sentence stems from the board and use them to write five sentences about you, either all true or a mixture of true and false.
- In class, dictate the sentences a couple of times at normal speed and ask your students to write them down (or draw the symbols for “play”, “stop” and “rewind” on the board, elicit their names from your class, explain that you are going to be like an MP3 player and let your class control the dictation time by calling out “play”, “stop”, etc as you speak. If you do this, make sure your class realises the importance of saying “stop” and “rewind”, because otherwise you won’t stop speaking and they won’t have time to write your sentences!).
- In pairs, students check your sentences. Elicit what they have and ask your students if they’d like you to board them.
- Elicit the sentences are about you. Ask your students to decide if they are true or false, and why they think that – tell them to have a guess if they’re not sure!
- Go through the sentences, nominating different students to tell you if they think it’s true or not, and why. As you go along, tell them if they’re right or wrong. Elicit some further questions from your class if they’re quite confident working together and answer these; otherwise, ask your class to think of some more questions they’d like to ask you about each sentence and to note these down. After you’ve been through the sentences, ask your students to work in pairs, combining questions and thinking of some more to ask you; then answer them for the whole class, eliciting further questions if the students are interested.
- Elicit the form of the sentence stems (they’re all time adverbials, talking about the future) and elicit more examples. Focus on the “going to” and “will” forms you’ve used (and any other constructions you’ve used to talk about the future) and elicit why they are used.
- Ask your students to write five or six sentences of their own about their futures. Ask them to use the future forms you’ve focussed on at least one time each, as well as a different time adverbial in each sentence. Explain that their sentences can either be all true, or a mixture of true and false sentences.
- Put your students in pairs if they are not very comfortable working in larger groups – or, if there is a strong class bond, put them in groups of four or five. Ask them in turn to read out their sentences. After each sentence has been read out, listeners can say if they think the sentence is true or false, and find out the answer. Listeners should also ask questions to get more information from the speaker. You can monitor and note down some good sentences you hear, as well as errors, for subsequent work or feedback.
Acknowledgement: this idea comes from Scott Thornbury’s excellent book, Grammar (Oxford Resource Books for Teachers). The “play”, “stop”, “rewind” idea comes from Humanising Your Coursebook, by Mario Rinvolucri.
2. To focus on future question forms
- As above, before class, choose 5 sentence stems from the board game and use them to write sentences which are true about you.
- In class, dictate these sentences and ask your students to write them down.
- Ask your students to check their sentences in pairs, then elicit these from different students and board them. Go through any grammar or vocabulary (or listening) errors as a class and make any corrections to the boarded sentences.
- Explain that these sentences are about your future hopes, dreams and plans. If time, ask your students in pairs to think of any questions they want to ask you about your sentences. Set a time limit for this (e.g., 4 minutes), then answer (some of) your students’ questions.
- Tell your students that these are your answers to questions – but what were the questions? If your class seem comfortable speaking out in front of everybody, elicit possible questions for the five sentences from them all collectively, or nominate different students to have a go. Otherwise, ask your students to think of and write down the questions in pairs. Board the questions and elicit corrections for any grammar or vocabulary errors they contain.
- Put your students into small groups and ask them to work together to write down more questions about the future they can ask each other and you. Set a time limit for this (I suggest no more than 10 minutes, nor less than 5). Explain that they can use the boarded questions to help them. Monitor to make sure your students are engaged with this task, but don’t correct any mistakes they make yet.
- Rub out all work on your board, then divide it into vertical columns, one per group of students.
- Nominate one student per group to come to the board, without their written questions. Assign each student a column to write in and elicit that their writing should be both legible and large enough for everyone to read. Elicit from the other students that they should tell the student from their group at the board what questions to write. Agree a time limit with your class in which to write their questions – perhaps 3 or 4 minutes.
- After the boarding stage, ask the writing students to return to their seats. I normally ask the listening students to give the writers a clap for their efforts, as it helps bond the class together and makes the writers feel better about having to do more work than the others!
- Ask each group to look at another group’s written questions. Give them some time (perhaps 3 or 4 minutes) to read these and discuss together any grammar or vocabulary mistakes they see.
- Elicit corrections from the different groups and add any of your own.
- From the class, recall your original sentences, which you dictated to your students. Tell your students that you will now ask them to work in pairs (or small groups if you prefer) to ask each other the boarded questions. Elicit that they can ask each other questions from any group’s work on the board, and that they can ask any other questions they like to get more information. Elicit they will be practising talking about the future in informal conversations. Agree a time limit for this activity – perhaps 10 or 15 minutes.
- Put your students in new pairs, or new groups of 3, 4 or 5. Start the activity and unobtrusively monitor your students’ output for subsequent language work (remembering to note down some good language or useful expressions you hear as well).
Acknowledgement: this idea was inspired by one from my friend and a fantastic teacher, Jackie Jays.
3. As a board game
- After a controlled practice activity on the future forms to be revised, put your students into groups of 3, 4 or 5 and hand out the board game.
- Hold up the coin or the die (I recommend using the coin if you’ve time, as the activity will last longer and your students will therefore get more free practice of the target language). If it’s a coin, elicit the names of the two sides (“heads” and “tails”) and the verb “to toss (a coin)”. Elicit the rules of the game: Ss take turns to toss the coin (or roll the die); heads = go forward two spaces, tails = go forward one space; they complete the sentence stem to make a true sentence about themselves (elicit they should just speak and not write the sentence); other students should ask questions to help the speaker talk for one minute about his sentence. If the speaker can talk for a minute, his or her counter can stay where it is – otherwise, it has to move back to where it was before. Nominate one student to time the speaker.
- Demonstrate this activity with your class, then let them get on with it. Monitor your students’ language for subsequent feedback.
4. As a simple group discussion activity
- Before class, cut up a copy of the board game and stick the sentence stems around your classroom.
- In class and probably after some controlled practice using, e.g., “going to” and “will” to talk about the future, put your students into new groups of 3 or 4.
- Point out the sentence stems around the classroom. Explain that there are 17 of these and elicit that you’d like your students to walk around the room together, finding the sentence stems and making sentences which are true about them. Demonstrate this idea for your class. Elicit questions from them and answer these questions. Elicit that all students should speak and ask questions to find out more information. If you have younger teenage learners, you could turn the finding of sentence stems into a game in itself.
- As your students are speaking, monitor their language for subsequent whole-class feedback.