Since we’re in the midst of the Olympics, yesterday one of my colleagues handed me a crossword with names of Olympic sports and other associated vocab. She’d used it as a filler, but I thought I’d extend it and make a whole lesson out of it.
How? Well I started with a miming game. This entailed hurdling two chairs and nearly doing myself an injury, but gave everyone the giggles and broke the ice for the two new girls who’d joined us today. The students then took turns. Carlos’s ‘equestrian’ was particularly interesting! In this way, and with the help of Google images, I elicited most of the vocab they’d need to do the crossword, which they then merrily got on with.
I then explained that they were going to make their own crossword about the winter Olympics. At this point there was vociferous protestation from one student ‘Teacher I’m A1 not B1. It’s too difficult!’….and: ‘We’re from Brazil! We not know winter Olympics!’. But I stubbornly soldiered on with my plan. I happen to believe that students are capable of a lot more than they (and we) give them credit for (as I discussed in my IATEFL talk at Birmingham).
I wrote the stages on the board:
- Find out about the Winter Olympics. (using their mobile phones)
- Write the questions. Use the crossword we did as a model.
- Design your crossword using the grid. Colour the squares at the end of the words. Don’t forget to write the numbers for the questions.
By the way, for the grid simply Google’crossword grid’.
As you can see, it generated some pretty impressive lexis for A1 learners. One of the girls exhaled a loud ‘phew!’ when they’d finished. It IS hard for them, but achievable if you give the right support. With activities like this, in contrast to using a book or a photocopy, the students do most of the work and are actively engaged with the language, which of course (we hope) makes it more memorable.
The next step is that they swap their crosswords and complete a puzzle created by their classmates. That’s today’s lesson...