You know the sport. Nets. Lets. Balls that come in Pringles cans and are hit with quasi-sexual moans and groans. It can be quite the…racket? (Sorry, I had to. Puns get no love, but I’ll smash any served up to me. God, I’m really over the line now. My fault. I thought they were ace, though.)
Tennis is a universal activity in that it can be made to fit a variety of themes and skills. It’s a great way for pairs to do memory checks for grammar or vocab. Best of all, it requires no prep work so it’s great if you’re a lazy bastard, which of course you are.
Let’s say you’re teaching Irregular Simple Past tense. Perhaps your book has a chart like this:
Well, first of all, that’s boring as shit. I hope you aren’t just having your students memorize a chart like that and then quizzing them on it, but we both know you’re hopeless. Why not do something fun with it? Or at least interactive.
You know how tennis goes back and forth? Same concept with this activity. Here’s how it works:
- Put your students into pairs.
- Student A will ‘serve’ by saying a Simple Present verb.
- Student B ‘returns’ the serve by saying the Simple Past verb, and then volley with a different Simple Present verb.
- Student A volleys with Simple Past and then a new Simple Present verb.
It will look like this:
B: Went. Come.
A: Came. Fly.
B: Flew. Eat.
A: Ate. Drive.
And so on and so forth. If a student can’t return the volley within three seconds, a point is awarded to the other player.
This would also work great as a pronunciation activity for Regular Simple Past verbs.
B: Visited. Stay.
A: Stayed. Miss.
B: Missed. Crap.
Or maybe you’re teaching a lesson on clothes:
B: Derp derp derp derp. Fail.
How about a variation with teams?
Put students in two lines. The first two students in each line will play the game above. Whoever repeats a word or times out must sit down and the next student in that line steps up. The winner stays on until he/she loses a game. The line with the most students at the end wins the set. Most sets won wins the match.
Why not turn it into a tournament? Let’s call it Wimbleton.
Students stand and find a partner. All the pairs play one round of tennis. The losers of that round sit, while the winners pair off for the next round. Play as many rounds as it takes until there’s a winner.
The variations on tennis are endless, but my time isn’t so I’ll leave it at that while I go drop a deuce. Ha! Game, set and match.