How to embolden students to play with language? This question occupies the mind of every teacher. Is it possible to memorize a lot of new words from any foreign language without boring work? Yes, everything becomes easier with word games. All ingeniousness is simple!
The enrichment of the vocabulary is a serious matter, but why not to try to play? So seldom in our life do we combine business with pleasure, but there’s nothing stopping us if we want to. While playing a game, everyone becomes more relaxed and forgets about their usual fears of making mistakes. The trappings of fantasy can brighten any boring grammar rule.
Fishing for Verbs
When studying any language, you face the problem of learning a lot of new words. How to make this process more interesting and effective? How to understand which words would really be necessary in our speech and which ones could be easily ignored?
First of all, we should pay attention to the verbs. If you forget a noun, it is possible to describe it by saying, "Well, it’s a sort of thing that we use to..." and then further describe the action. This way, we can perfectly explain what thing is on our mind. In our native language, we often use this method without noticing it.
There is a very useful exercise to help us fish out the most used verbs. Everyone can practice it without a teacher.
Look around and describe (in English), with the help of the verbs, all items that you see. For example, one can say:
- a bed: It’s a thing in which I sleep.
- a table: It’s a thing at which we eat.
- a ladle: It’s a thing we use to take a portion of soup from a saucepan.
All the verbs you’d require are the most actively used ones, and they are worth remembering. If you feel there is a lack of verbs to describe a noun, just write down the missing verbs in your native language and look them up in the dictionary.
- Kettle: It's a thing where we put water and boil it for making tea.
- Collar: It's a thing which we put on dog's neck when we go for a walk.
What Can I Do With… ?
This is another exercise that makes for the same work, but in a bit different way. It’s possible to use it during Skype lessons or even without a teacher’s help. You keep on asking only one question: “What can I do with…?” In response to this question you will give five answers, trying to avoid the repetition of the same verbs. Let’s see how it works.
What can I do with a box?
- I can open the box.
- I can close the box.
- I can give you the box.
- I can find a sweet in the box.
- I can catch a butterfly with the box.
This game can be used for memorizing new words in a contest. Just try to come up with five things you can do with a broom (or a lizard, or a persimmon, or a stapler), and you will never forget these words. Also, by doing this, we can identify the most used verbs. Another big plus!
For teachers, you may prepare a list of the most common verbs by translating them into your students’ native language. Such way we can kill two birds with one stone. The students won’t need to spend their precious time digging out the words from the dictionaries, because who likes hard work anyway? They start playing absolutely relaxed and without even noticing how many new words have already infiltrated their minds.
Here are some verbs for beginners:
Take, draw, give, feed, open, cut, close, boil, wash, fry, clean, watch, eat, play (with), drink, sit (on), buy, jump (from), sell, keep (in), find, make (of), lose, throw, break, catch, dust, sew, pour, paint, fix, share, hide (from), bring, add, compare (with), type, prepare, install, pick, pull, rub, push, fasten, wear, carry, keep, dig, water, hammer (in)…
I Know Five
This game is very good for expanding vocabulary. The first player says: “I know five sweet things.” Then, a second player must name five something that fits this category: “Honey, sugar, chocolate, sweets, syrup.” Then the second player thinks of his five words (I know five green / cold / dangerous… things or five female names / American lakes…).
The essence of this game is not in guessing what the second player thought of. Your aim is to choose a topic that would not allow your competitor to come up with five words. If he can’t name five words, be ready to read out your list. So be careful and set only well-known themes!
Warning: Children can be especially cruel and invincible in this game. They use the generation gap and ask about things which normal adults don’t usually know.