Here is a lively and distinctive activity to practise vocabulary.
When we have a new list of 15 or 20 words from a chapter, I play the fly swatter game. I write the words (without the article for nouns) in large print in rows across the board. Then I divide the class into two teams. The first time around with the fly swatters, I explain how the game works. After that, it's not necessary.
(A fly swatter is an instrument used to kill flies. It consists of a small square piece of material or mesh which is on the end of a short flexible stick. it makes a great thwacking noise when hit onto a wall or similar surface).
For those not familiar with the fly swatter game, one student from each team comes to the front of the room facing the class, with their back to the board. Each has a fly swatter. When I say a word, they have to turn around, look over the words on the board and touch the word I've said with the fly swatter. The first one to touch the word gets a point for their team. There are some other basic rules: 1) You may not hit another student with the fly swatter. 2) You may not throw the fly swatter at anyone. 3) You may not "block" another player with your arm or your body to prevent them from getting at a word.
- For the first round, I tell the class we're going to start with something easy. I say the word in English and the two at the front have to find it. The one who touches it first with the fly swatter gets the point. I do this until every person on each team has been at the board once.
- Then we do round two, with the same words on the board. I pair the students up differently so that they are competing against a different person from the opposite team. This time I say the word in the student's native language and they have to find the English. (Obviously, this round is for monolingual classes)
- For the third round, I give clues such as:
- Find something you can sit on (chair, couch, bed, carpet when we did items in a room, for instance). If they touch a word that's plausible, they get the point.
- Find something that you can wear on your feet (when we did clothing)
- Find a male family member (when we did family words)
- Find something you usually do indoors (when we had activity verbs - play cards, go hiking, play the piano, go horse riding).
- For each round, I make sure every student has a chance at the board. I find this repetition helps, plus we have lots of laughs as we do it and I think that aids retention, too.
Original idea by Carol Haring, USA