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  Home > TEFL Clinic > Practical Teaching > Warmers and Fillers

Level 3 - Pre-Intermediate


Name of the game

Level 3+ (no kids)


Each ST in turn says a word s/he associates with the word given by the ST before him. This should be done as a fast game. You could play it in Tennis formation. i.e. the STs stand facing each other in two lines and speak in this order:

Other STs at any time may say "stop, why did you say that word e.g. ST1: Water ST2: tap ST3: shoulder ST1: Stop why did you say "shoulder?"

ST3: Because I thought - to tap someone on the shoulder.' Etc....

Level 3+ (not for kids)

Plural Tennis

This is a tennis game with words. Split the class into two teams, who turn to face each other. Give a letter, which will be the initial letter or the first words in the game. The STs count in turn, one ST from each team alternately, using a plural noun that begins with the letters given. This can only be changed when someone gives a word that rhymes with the previous one - then the initial letter of the rhyming word can be used, e.g.:

(letter B)

Team A

Team B

One boy

Two bottles

Three boxes

Four books

Five buildings

Six Bombs

Seven Bridges

Eight Fridges

Nine Feet


Scoring: Mistakes, repetitions, not being able to answer: 1 penalty point

Using a rhyme: 1 point
Using an irregular plural (e.g. feet, children):1 point

Level 3+

Variations of 'Expand'

Tell the STs a minimal sentence, e.g.." Cars are expensive". Don't write anything down. Round the class, STs must repeat the sentence, adding two words together each time.

e.g., ST1: Cars are not expensive. ST2: Pink sports cars are not very expensive, etc. You could play it adding one word instead of two each time.

Level 3+

Rumours (Chinese Whispers IV)

You give a message to the ST at the end of the line, s/he whispers it to the next person, and so on round the class. However, instead of repeating the message exactly, the STs must distort it with the aim of creating an outrageous rumour. Then, the original and last STs versions are compared.

e.g.:     T: I saw Maria talking to a policeman this morning.
        ST1: I saw Maria kissing a policeman this morning.
        ST3: I saw Maria kissing three policemen this morning. etc..

Level 3+

Spies (Chinese Whispers V)

Seat the STs in two lines facing each other. Each line is a team. Team 1 are Russian spies, team 2 are German spies. Write a message on a slip of paper and show it to the first person in team 1. He then whispers it to the next person, etc., and it is passed down the line. The last person has to write the message as s/he thought it was on a piece of paper, and give it to you immediately.

While the message is being passed, something else is going on. As the teams are spies, one of their main aims is to overhear the other group's secret message. So team B, not moving their chairs any nearer than a limit decided by you, have to lean forward and try to hear what team A are saying. When team A's message has reached the end of the line, team B get together and pool information about what they heard, in order to try to write down their version of the message. Then the messages are read out and compared.

The game can be played with one message, like this, or with two simultaneous messages being passed, one for each team, starting at opposite ends of the line.

Sample messages (high Levels): "Our agent James Frond will meet you in the Hotel Moscow tonight at 11 o'clock." "Agent number 735 has escaped from Petrograd prison and is on the run."

Level 3+

Don't Say Yes or No

A ST comes forward and is questioned by the others in the class. In his answers s/he may not use the words yes or no! If s/he does, another ST takes his place. The game can then be played in smaller groups.

Go through alternative ways of affirming or negating with the students first - "I don't think so!" "I certainly do" "Not at all" "Not really" "That's true" etc....

Level 3+

Once Upon a Time

Divide the class into 2 teams. The aim is for the teams to make up stories in the past tense. A ST from team A begins the story with the words Once upon a time... and continues. Any member of team B may challenge if the storyteller makes a grammatical mistake, or repeats something. If the challenge is successful, Team A loses a point and team B wins a point (you may also challenge if they say something horrendous, and no-one picks up on it, in which case team A loses a point but team B don't gain one). The next ST in team A then takes over and develops the story. Each team's story should pass round every ST in the Team, and end with the last ST.

Level 3+

Word Pyramids

Give the class a single letter, for example A. The STs have to build a pyramid downwards. Adding a single letter at each line to make a new word. The letters already used can be rearranged if necessary. The ST pair or team with the tallest pyramid is the winner.














Level 3+

Which Job?

The STs work together in groups (4-6 people). Each ST in the group writes down the ideal job for himself and everybody else in the group. The lists are then read out and discussed in groups.

Level 3+

Lie Detector

Put STs into groups of 3 or more, and send on person from each group outside. The others in the group decide on 5 questions that they will then ask that person. When the person comes back in and answers the questions. He must answer 4 of them truthfully and lie in his answer to one. Then the rest of the group have to decide which answer was a lie/ and say why they thought so.

Level 3+

Guess the Job

If you have a set of cards with jobs written on them or better still, pictures of jobs, it help, but you can write the jobs on slips of paper as you go along get the students to write one on each and redistribute them or rely on the class to think of jobs as they go along.

Give one ST a card with a job on it. The other STs have to guess his job by asking yes/no questions about it, e.g.. "Do you work alone?' " Do you work at night" etc.... Go through some useful questions with them when you start. Limit the game by setting a maximum of 20 questions, or a time limit within which they must guess the person's job.

It works well if the students STs are split into groups of 4 to play the game.

Level 3+

Your Words, My Grammar

Write a sentence in the target structure on the board e.g.,

Who's been eating my porridge?

Explain to the students that you want them to write sentences that have exactly the same grammar as the above sentence, but all the words apart from the one in the box, 'been', must be different and must be their own words. So the first word must be an interrogative pronoun, the second an auxiliary verb etc.... The STs can work individually or in pairs. Ask the STs to write their sentences on the board - don't correct them first. Now ask the class to decide which sentences are right and which are wrong and discuss them. Example replacement sentence: " What's been killing her flowers?"

Level 3+

Mad Discussion

Either prepare lots of pieces of paper with topics on them or get the STs to each write a topic on a piece of paper. The topics should be either inventions or everyday concepts/things. For example, flowers, operas, ships, plastic spoons birthday cards, passports, watches, detective novels, schools, socks, paper, etc.

The class is divided into two teams. One ST from each team comes forward and takes a paper with a topic on it. They then have 3 minutes to argue about which of the 2 things is more important to mankind. You could elect a judge (or jury) to decide who has put forward the best argument and award points.

Level 3+

Spending Money

Each ST writes down what s/he would spend a given sum on, e.g.

50p (100 pts) 2.50 (500 pts) 10 (2000 pts) 50 (10000 pts) 500 (100 000pts)

5,000 (1 million pts) 100,000 (20 million pts).

The STs sit together in small groups and describe what they would buy, and why.

Level 3+

Inconsequential Stories

Give a blank sheet of A4 to each ST, and write up a boy's name and a girl's name on the board, e.g., 'Eddy, Sara'. You could use the names of two people in the class, which would give amusing results.

Beginning with "Once upon a time," or "It was a windy night in November" or whatever you choose, the STs are to (secretly) write the first two sentences of a story, using the two names as characters. They may leave the last sentence unfinished if they wish. When they finish this introduction, they are to fold what they have written over backwards so that it cannot be seen, but leave about 4 words visible. Then all the papers are passed along one, and the next student taking the few words visible as a basis, continues the story, writing another 1-3 sentences. He then folds over the paper, again leaving a few words visible, and so on. All the papers are passed from person to person in this way, and the person whose turn it is to write when the story has almost reached the bottom of the page has to think of a suitable conclusion for it. You end up with one story per person in the class; these are then read out.

Follow-up: each ST or pair takes a story and tries to correct any mistakes s/he can find; this could be done for homework.

Level 3+

With your Back to the Class

Write 3 words at the top of the board, e.g. 'brick' 'thief' 'unconscious' Tell the STs that these are 3 key words in a story you have in your head. In the case of the examples here they are true stories; you could use invented short stories, jokes, or amusing incidents that have happened to you if you wanted more material.

Looking at the three words, The STs have to ask yes/no questions to try to discover the story. They are to come up and write these questions on the board, as the exercise is to be completely silent. Sit with your back to the class. Explain that as soon as a ST has written a question on the board you give a thumbs up signal if it's grammatically correct and a thumbs down if it's wrong. If it's a thumbs down the writer/class have to try and correct the mistake. When the question is correct, you answer it by vigorously nodding (yes) or shaking (no) your head.

You can give further clues if necessary by writing an extra key word on the board. Here are 3 stories you can use. They are true!

1) words: A hundred and three, seventy-five, driving
Mrs. Fannie Turner of Arkansas, USA, took and failed her driving test 103 times before finally passing it in 1978, at the age of 75.

2) words: brick, thief, unconscious
A thief decided to rob a large Hollywood jewelry store, by hurling a brick through the main window and grabbing as much as s/he could. The window, however, was made from special shatterproof strengthened glass. The thief hurled the brick, which bounced off the glass window and hit him on the head - hard. The blow flattened the thief, and s/he was still lying outside the store unconscious when the police arrived to arrest him.

3) words: thief, snake , yell
'The Times' carried a story in its issue dated 11 November 1946, about an attempted robbery by a pickpocket in Tottenham Court Road. Evidently, a thief had put his hand into the bulging pocket of a well-dressed man and pulled out not a wallet but a snake! The pickpocket had yelled, dropped the snake and run off empty handed, a complete failure. The snake was not dangerous and belonged to a magician.

Please feel free to share your favourite teaching ideas with your colleagues...

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