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Archive for June, 2011


There is a quiz shoe in Britain called “Countdown” where the contensants have to make words out of 9 letters.

I use this same idea in my class as a warmer, or as an acitivity to fill the last 10 minutes of a lesson.

Choose a 9 letter word: eg, policeman, birthdays, traveller, spiderweb, superhero, tracksuit. Then draw a 3×3 grid on the board and mix the letters up.

In pairs, give the students 5 minutes to find as many words as possible (min 3 letters). Tell them there is a 9 letter word which is worth extra points.

When the time is up, get the students to count their words and see which team has the most, then brainstorm the words on the board and help them find the 9 letter word

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I’m sure this has been used and used and re-used some more in your classes, but I used this in a class last week and even though I had used it before, I was surprised at the results, so thought I would put it on here to remind you that it is a great activity to use.

For those who may not be familiar with the concept of Speed Dating, a quick summary: Strangers go to the event and spend about 5 minutes at a table talking to a partner, a bell then sounds and they move round to the next person. They fill out an opinion form and hand them in to the organisers. If there are any matches, the organisers send their details to one another and romance blossoms from there!

You can use this activity at any level. It works with elementary students who are learning to introduce themselves and ask people questions. I have used it with intermediate students to improve fluency and last week I used it with advanced students who had to include more complex vocabulary and had to portray certain characteristics. They were very lathargic on a hot Friday afternoon but became full of energy and motivation once they started speed dating!

I find that getting students to make a new personality brings them out of themselves and gets rid of any shyness that there may have been before. You could give them a magazine and they have to find a photo of a person to be which can be quite fun.

Make sure you have equal number of boys and girls (you may need to have some transgender students for a while!)

They then need to invent a new name, age, personality profile (for higher students to act out), job, family imformation, hobbies and interests. Give them about 5-10 minutes for this as this is not the focus, and they may get carried away lookign for photos.

Set the tables up so one “date” takes place at each table. Give the students a maximum of 5 minutes (I find 3 minutes helps keep the pace up and means they don’t have any awkward silences) to talk to each other, then move one set around so they speak to as many people as possible. When they have spoken to everyone, bring them back together as a class and see who they made a note of who they liked… See if any romances have blossomed!

I have had 80 year old alcholics, 20 year old New York City singers and dancers, ego-centric socialites and lots and lots of giggles!

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