Race the Clock

Here’s a fun way to get students repeating vocabulary and target structures with a focus on pronunciation. They’ll be speaking as fast as they can, but sloppy pronunciation is punished! The only things you’ll need is a stopwatch the students can see (there are plenty of timers online), and flashcards for them to pass.

Suppose your target structure is ‘I like _______’ and the vocabulary is fruit. Perhaps one of your flashcards is ‘apples’. The goal is to get your students repeating ‘I want apples’ as naturally as possible.

Students can play seated or standing in either a horseshoe or circle. Horseshoe Seating Arrangement

Give the first student at either end of the horseshoe the ‘apple’ flashcard. Put 20 seconds on the clock, making sure it’s visible. Note: students must be able to see the clock otherwise the game doesn’t work; the clock functions as a ticking time bomb which they race against. 

When you start the clock, the first student says, ‘I like apples,’ and passes it to the next student who says also says it before handing it to the next, and so on. Each student must repeat the target structure correctly or the flashcard goes back to the first student and one second is taken off the clock. In this example, students have 20 seconds to get the card to the other end of the horseshoe. Once successful, give them another flashcard (e.g. oranges) and take one second off the clock. Now they have 19 seconds.

As a variation, try putting students in teams. Now there are two horseshoes (or circles) and they will race each other. The team with the fastest time wins.

This activity works for lower levels of all ages.