Hot Potato

Fun for kids, teens and adult classes alike, hot potato is just like what you remember playing as a kid, only this version puts an emphasis on focused speaking practice.

Hot potato is perfect for when there’s a simple question and answer you’re practicing. It’s even better with flashcards which function as the potato. In effect, it’s a substitution drill, but it’s fun enough that students won’t mind the repetition.

Suppose the theme of the lesson is food, the question is ‘what do you want?’ and the answer is ‘I want soup.’

Put you students in a (standing) circle and give your instructions. You will play a song while they pass a ‘soup’ flashcard. When you stop the song, everyone who isn’t holding the flashcard will ask the holder the question ‘what do you want?’ The holder must respond, ‘I want soup.’

Put another flashcard in the mix and play the song again. Stop. Now there are two questions and two students answering. Next time there are three and so on.

A game that counts.

If you’re teaching numbers to elementary classes, be they children or adults, it can be difficult to come up with a way to make numbers and counting interesting. Enter ‘Buzz’ — a fun, lightning fast, last-man-standing (or last-person-standing if that warms your cockles) game that keeps students on their toes.

warning sign  Students should have solid pronunciation practice before attempting. The minimal pairs (13 and 30, 14 and 40 etc.) can cause absolute fits for students who can’t hear the difference and spasms of frustration for the teachers who can’t understand why. But that’s a whole other post.

Get your students up and standing in a circle. Tell them that they’re going to go around the circle counting student by student, but that instead of saying 5, 10, 15 or any multiple of 5, they’ll instead say ‘buzz’. Of course they won’t understand your instructions, so you know what to do:

Model

That’s right. Model that shit.

Point at the students as you go round the circle counting. “1, 2, 3, 4, BUZZ. 6, 7, 8, 9, BUZZ. 11, 12, 13, 14, BUZZ.” Model it a few more times if they’re still unclear.

If a student makes a mistake by either forgetting the count or to say ‘buzz’, he or she sits down and the game continues without them, the count resetting back to zero. The winner is the last student standing.

Just when students start getting a bit too confident, increase the level of difficulty and frustration by changing from multiples of 5 to 3. Boom. Buzzkill. Don’t forget to check out the look on their faces when they realize they’re not as smart as they thought they were.

Confused Student