July 15, 2015

Learning English with Flying Hankerchieves

"Aesthetic matters are fundamental for the 
harmonious development of both society and the individual."
Friedrich Schiller

I simply love having hankerchieves in my classes because these flying and maleable colourful pieces of light fabric bring much more than joy, movement, and fantasy. Flying hankerchieves bring a sense of aesthetic and beauty to the process of language learning.

These small pieces of magic allow students to create language while playing, to move their bodies while learning, and to see them beautifully floating in the air.

That's probably why I have have given over 50 sets of these flying hankerchieves made by my mom Stella to fellow English teachers at congresses and school visits around the world.You can make your very own hankerchieves by cutting 15-cm squares of colourful and very light fabric. 

Here I share 12 creative ways through which flying hankerchiefs can promote affective language learning in your class:

Ready or not, here I come!

1. Counting numbers: children can count with hankerchieves in several different ways. One way is to have only one hankerchief being passed around, one variation is to give a hankerchief to a small number of children to be passed around, and finally a pair can share a hankerchief. Another possibility to prctising counting is to throw the hankerchief really high in the air and children count until it touches the floor.

2. Drawing numbers, letters, and words: you can model drawing numbers, letters and even words in the air which students should guess. One student can then be invited to do it to the classroom and finally students do it in pairs of small groups. It can also be done with ribbons that will maintain even longer the shape of the numbers and letters. Great fun!

3. Noticing colours: here I share some ways that you probably already know. The first one is hiding one in your hand and students have to guess which colour you have. Another is hiding them in the room to be found. Next you can play the subtracting game by getting one colour from the pile and getting them to notice which one you got. Last you can display the hankerchieves on the floor in a certain order, ask kids to close their eyes, and change the order, students have to tell you what has changed. All these can be played as a big group, small group, and then in pairs.

4. Touching body parts: here one throws a hankerchief in the air and students have to get them with the part of the body that is chosen. A variation is to say a student's name and a body part as a challenge. If the students completes the challenge, he or she says the name of the next student and a different body part.  Great fun!

5. Exchanging things they like: you get a hankerchief and you tell students you have something of that colour in your hand. One can say for instance that the white hankerchief is a cloud,  the red one a strawberry, and the blue one is the ocean. Have students say what things each colour is. Then each student can get a hankerchief and say what they have in their hands. In the last movement, students ask each other what they have and  if they would like to exchange them.More advanced students can give reasons why they accept or not the exchange.

6. Checking students' emotions: tell students you feel happy when you pick the yellow hankerchief. They can them tell you which colour means happy for them. After that learners can choose a flying hankerchief according to how they feel on a certain day or about a certain topic. They can choose for example the white one if they are really calm or the yellow one because the like the sunny day.

7. Creating things ( or even a scenario!) : call out some things that have one color like the sun or water and let students make them on the floor, after this call out things like trees or a watermelon that have two or more colours. When you notice your students are really good at it invite them to make a scenario with all the hankerchieves. If they choose making a beach for instance, they can use the blue ones as the ocean, the yellow ones as the beach, and the green as palm trees. Their creations are usually incredible!

8. Discovering things with the chosen colors: this is the opposite of the previous activity. Each learner chooses a hankerchief and the teacher calls two students. These students have then to say which thing has the colors of their hankerchieves. For example, black and blue could be a policeman's uniform or even a sunken ship. You can leave their creations on the floor. Call out all the students until they run out of hankerchieves.

9. Telling a story: here you can start a story by giving a specific meaning to one hankerchief. For the story to continue one student comes and ties his/her hankerchief to the first one. Example: Once there a flea (black one) that fell in the water (blue one) and then the day started to get really hot (yellow) and so on. Once all the hankerchieves are used students can retell or even rewrite the whole story.

10. Reading through them: a fun way to use the hankerchieves is to read through them. You can decide together with the class if colors have any special moods or ways to read. Hankerchieves can be changed after some time. Some possibilities are fast, slowly, prolifically, sleepy, angrily, in love, etc.

11. Listening to words: students can be given flashcards with words that will appear in a story or in a song. Whenever they listen to the word they have been assigned they throw their hankerchief to the air. It is a beautiful scene to see all of them flying in the air. Make sure you say every word many times to make children pay close attention. I usually say all the words in my last sentence.

12. Listening to similarities: students are given a hankerchief each. Then in pairs they face each other, one starts saying one sentence at a time about personal facts or opinion. Then if the other person has the same fact or the same opinion, this person throws the hnkerchief to the other and repeats the sentence that was said, and then continues the game by saying sentences until the other person repeats it and throws the hankerchief. Students go switching who is doing the talking until they have swapped hankerchiefs a certain number of times.

Bonus activity: have them dancing! 

 Here you can see me with  two wood crosses and eight hankerchieves. Tie one to each edge and you can have a bunch of birds flying or ghosts dancing.

Thanks to Pravita Indriati from Indonesia for the pictures of her students learning with the flying hankerchieves!

Which was your favourite activity?
Do you have any other idea on how to these beautiful flying hankerchieves?

Hope to meet you at a congress and to be able to give you personally a set of flying hankerchieves!

Sending you a big hug,


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July 10, 2015

Interviewing Affective Educators: Sosô Uribe Conti Ranzi

I am very happy to present you an interview with an educator, and an entrepreneur I deeply admire: Sosô Uribe Conti Ranzi, who happens to be my sister, my partner, and the General Director at Juan Uribe Ensino Afetivo, the school we both founded here in São Paulo, Brazil.

But how could I interview her if I know pretty much what she will answer? In order to make the interview more natural and revealing I decided to invite my dear friend Naoko Amano to interview Sosô. 

Naoko is the founder of Yellow Banana Kids English in Kishiwada, Japan. She was a fantastic host when I visited her school in 2013. Naoko is also part of the iTDi family and I am grateful to Barbara Sakamoto for having introduced us to each other. 

It is with great honor that I have connected these two lovely educators and here I present this interview: 

Naoko: Congratulations on the 20th anniversary of your school! I saw the great pictures of your special flea market. Could you please tell me more about your feelings about this anniversary?

Sosô: Oh Naoko! It’s a feeling that is really hard to put into words! It was a great pleasure to see kids speaking English spontaneously and confidently. Families were together and everybody was communicating and having fun in English!

Naoko:Yes! I was able to see that all the families are so happy to be there! That's wonderful, Sosô. What are some of your unforgettable memories of these twenty years?

Sosô: There are so many! It's rewarding to see that people that worked here left their mark and have made this school a better place. It's beautiful to know that students that studied here with us are starting their professional careers and that deep inside I  know that our English classes have contributed to their success! Another lovely memory was when we rented this house we are in right now! Moving to this new house was a big step for us, because we grew 4 times in size!

 Naoko: That's really inspiring, Sosô. I've heard about you a little bit from your brother Juan, whom I always meet in congresses here in Japan. But I'd like to know more about you. How did you start teaching English to children?

Sosô: Wow….that was a looong time ago…. I started my first class on May 10th 1996… 19 years ago. I was only 17 years old then! I started teaching a 2-year-old boy called Christian and I fell in love with teaching as I saw that I was much more able and creative that I thought I was. As a result, Christian learned much faster that I could imagine.

Naoko: Oh! That is a very interesting story. Can you recall any of the classes you had with him? 

Sosô: I used to spend the whole afternoon with him and we did everything together - we cooked, played outside, we made projects, played with his power rangers, watched movies, and sang songs. He liked hunting treasures and playing with his wild animals figures. I remember that once we made a huge cardboard boat and played there for hours!

Naoko: That must have been fun. But how did you go from teaching this very first student to opening the school with Juan? 

Sosô:  As I started teaching more and more students, Juan and I had a turning-point conversation in which we decided to open our own school. At the age of 17, I was reading Brazilian laws concerning hiring people.

Naoko: You were so young then. How many students are learning English at Juan Uribe Ensino Afetivo now?

Sosô: Currently there are 252 students from two to twelve learning English with us. We have 102 students having classes at their homes while 150 come to our school. 

Naoko: That is a lot! I am sure you have 252 students, parents, and teachers smiling. That’s wonderful!

Sosô: Thank you, Naoko. I love teaching and I also love managing the school!

Naoko:What do you currently do at Juan Uribe Ensino Afetivo?

Sosô: Today I am the General Director, which includes thinking about our growth, envisioning new challenges, checking the quality of our classes, and learning about families' satisfaction. 

Naoko: I saw in many pictures that you always have a puppet with you. How did you start using them to teach English? 

Sosô:  In 1996  Juan and I bought six hand puppets which later became our logo. We always had them with us and they called everybody’s attention. Today we have more than 80 puppets here at school. The educators who work with us learn how to use puppets in our initial course, but they are not supposed to use them every class. We are always watching many puppeteers, taking courses, and getting better and better at it. 

Naoko: Eighty puppets!? That's a lot! I saw your fantastic and heartwarming DVD in which you also use puppets. What made you film it? How did you film it?

Sosô: That was a dream-come-true project! In 2008 Juan filmed me telling "The Gingerbread Man" and we put it on YouTube. Many families watched it and told me that I had talent telling stories and that I should record a DVD. I let this dream rest for almost 4 years until I met the Cama family in October 2012. Together we decided to pursue this dream and we came up with different storytelling techniques to teach English to children through fairy tales. After 18 months, the DVD was finally released and now kids from all over Brazil can learn English with us!

The DVD was filmed in a cinema studio with professional microphones and movie cameras. I had my “actress” day starting the first story at 7 am and finishing with the tenth one at 9 pm. By then I was exhausted, but really happy!

Naoko: It sounds that must have been both exciting and hard work! What were some of the most difficult aspects while shooting the videos?

Sosô: I guess it was during the shooting of “The Three Little Pigs” when I had to make the second pig look down to the camera (I was behind a wall - and I couldn’t see where the camera was). Editing Hansel and Gretel was also a challenge as we had to make the narration match the scenes. :)

 Naoko: I love your warm voice and your friendly way of telling stories. I immediately felt drawn to your story. Is there anything in special you pay attention to when telling stories with puppets? 

Sosô: Oh Yes! Besides the story itself, I pay attention to the voices, movement of the puppet’s mouth and body, and  possible jokes or charades I will tell. While storytelling in the classroom, I make sure to take into account the comments of the students too! It’s really fun! You should definitely try it too!

Naoko: Wow, it seems to be very difficult and I certainly need some training myself, but I’m interested in it. On the DVD, your puppets are really alive and we felt as if we were in the story!!

Naoko: What are you doing in the picture you look like a ninja?

 Sosô: Just posing for the picture! We had to use this outfit, so our hands and heads wouldn’t appear in the video. 

Naoko:  I was also very excited to see you using kamishibai in your storytelling. It is a beautiful Japanese technique we rarely see here in Japan.  How do you like telling kamishibai stories?

Sosô: Kamishibai stories are really different and everybody loves them, as they do not exist here in Brazil. I always have a great time telling them!

Naoko: I am glad to hear that people love our tradition. Here in Japan, we usually tend to look for new techniques from overseas, but we definitely should reconsider our work in the light of our own Japanese tradition.

Naoko: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me.  You have inspired me a lot.  I was able to feel your passion for teaching as well as your gentle and beautiful heart. I’d also like to thank Juan Uribe for giving me this wonderful chance. 

Sosô: Same here. It was really nice “talking” to you and telling you a little bit about the school, myself and the DVD! :) Come visit me here in São Paulo!

Naoko: You too here in Kishiwada! 

Wow! What a great interview! 
Thank you so much Naoko and Sosô.
I sincerely hope that your families can meet each other some time in the future. 

Would you like me to interview any educator you admire? 
Tell me and I will give my best as always! 

Sending everybody a kamishibai hug from São Paulo, 


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June 28, 2015

Puppeteering on IATEFL's Young Learners webmagazine

I am very happy to share that my article on puppeteering as a way of creating affective language learning experiences with primary learners was featured together with other very interesting ones in the digital issue of  IATEFL's Young Learners and Teens magazine. This issue was edited by the competent David Valente and also features my dear friend Kylie Malinowska, who was previously interviewed in the blog

Click here to read the whole magazine! Enjoy it!

Do you have interesting experiences to share with the world? 
Get in touch with IATEFL's Young Learners and Teens Special Interest Group and publish your voice!

Hugs from Brazil, 


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February 15, 2015

Let's all be travelers!

It is with great pleasure that I am part of the February issue on Teachers as Travelers of the iTDi blog! Check my contribution in which I reflect on the similarities and differences of being a tourist or a traveler in education and in life. Make sure you also read the articles written by my dear colleagues Anna Loseva and Chuck Sandy on how they have evolved personally and professionally being on the road. 

Never heard of iTDi? 
iTDi is a global online teacher development institute that is owned and staffed by dedicated teachers. iTDi provides Online courses to improve your classroom teaching or English language skills, written by some of the most respected authors in English language teaching. 
iTDi's mission is to provide quality professional development that is meaningful, accessible and affordable for all teachers. The iTDi community brings together teaching professionals working at every level -- newcomers and veterans, native and non-native teachers from a wide range of contexts, all sharing a common belief that being a teacher means a never-ending commitment to growing and learning.
Check iTDi's site and check out the offered courses and webinars!  

Send you a big traveling hug, 

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February 05, 2015

Interviewing Affective Educators: Eric Kane

I met Eric Kane in 2013 when I attended my first JALT conference in Kobe, Japan. Eric is that kind of guy that you will remember him after you have met him. He is a kind, creative, and energetic teacher who is always singing, thinking, and sketching how his ideas can become either songs, books, or videos. After the conference in 2013, I had the great pleasure of being at Eric's house for a week in the city of Omihachiman and going many times to ELF Learning, the school for young learners he founded many years ago. In our talks he shared that ELF stands for Everybody Loves Fun, which defines well the mood children experience at his lovely school.

It's my great pleasure to interview Eric, who is both a friend and a professional that I admire and respect immensely.

Juan: When I see you interacting with children, I notice that your interactions come very naturally and full of caring and purpose. It even seems that you were already born a teacher. Please share with us how you have become an English teacher.

Eric: When I was about 16 I had a meeting with my guidance counsellor in high school.  This is someone who helps students identify which career they might find rewarding or interesting.  Her first question to me was, "What do you see yourself doing in the future?"  I told her that I wanted to be a motivational speaker!  I'm still not sure where that came from, but I think I might have known even then that I wanted my life's work to help others in some way.  

Juan: I have been to your talks and you surely have inspired other teachers to publish their materials. I had the great pleasure of being with the children and  your great team in the cozy classrooms you have at your school. How did you start ELF? How has it evolved since its early days? 

Eric: Great question and a very amusing answer.  I started the school after teaching for 6 years at a private language school and a private junior/senior high school.  I told my wife that I would be happy to stay in Japan, but I wanted to quit my job and open my own English school.  She agreed and we put all of our savings into a building, got it ready and opened the doors.  

We furnished it with wooden furniture in an old Japanese house.  I played music and had coffee or tea ready as the students came in.  It was a very pleasant place to be.  Physical environment was and is very important to me and I wanted to create a space that quietly whispered, "You're welcome and you're safe."

The funny part is that when I opened I told my wife that this would be strictly an ADULT English school.  
I had been teaching mostly kids for 6 years and must have needed a break.  After a year or so some of the seniors in the neighborhood asked me to teach their grandchildren, so I went down to the used furniture place and picked up a nice cedar table for the kids.  I found myself really enjoying the classes.  We laughed a lot and I found myself building a strong connection with the students...much closer than I had ever become with my adult students.  

I think it was there purity.  They had no reservations if they trusted you.  Build the trust with a laugh and they would follow.  I found myself having a good amount of success with these students despite the fact that, looking back, I really knew little of what I was doing! 

When my daughter was born I immersed myself in books on childhood and language development.  The words were profound and I found myself self-reflecting as I flipped through the pages.  How can I use this information in my classroom?  How do we really learn or acquire language.  More and more it became clear to me that, at least with the youngest learners, it was much more than just language.  It was about learning how to communicate with one another at all costs.  This realization has guided much of my teaching since then.

After a while my daughter's friends started to join the school and I found myself enjoying the classes more and more.  Ever since I've slowly moved away from teaching adults and 2 years ago we closed our doors to all students over the age of 12!  I laugh every time I think about where we started!

Juan: I would have never imagined it if you hadn't told it, Eric! As you know I strongly believe in affective language learning. How do you see affect being lived in the everyday life at ELF?

Eric: One of my favorite teaching quotes is, "If a child can't learn the way we teach, perhaps we should teach the way they learn."

I believe that children learn naturally if we give them the right environment, opportunity and a little patience.  Unfortunately we find that parents are often the most impatient with the learning process.  The kids are just fine!

That's why we've made an effort to discuss how children learn with moms and dads.  If they understand that (in our case) language learning is largely a natural process at this age, they generally are quite happy to back off and not insist on meaningless tests and assessments.  And more often than not, they are surprised at the results.  

Most of our students only come once a week, so we try and spend as much time as possible in an interactive environment.  We use many picture books to discuss characters and illustrations, to develop predictive and memory skills and spend whatever time necessary helping them to understand the meaning of the story.  We also use a great deal of songs in creative ways, often with students creating their own versions of the songs!  And one of my favorite activities is to put down an assortment of flash cards on the floor and build a story with them.  They LOVE that.

Juan: In my travels around the world, I have visited many successful schools and yours is certainly one of these. In your opinion, what is important for a language school to thrive?  

Eric: Big question!  For me, personally, it's about creating a great space, hiring the right teachers, training them well, communicating goals and teaching methods to parents and students and then following through. Pretty much the same as any other business I think. 

Eric published this amazing book! 
Juan:You have launched books in the area of phonics, which have been very well received. What are the new features you have included in the books? 

Eric: With phonics and other materials I think it's less, "What's new" and more, "What's the Combination." We tried to combine a number of goals in a clear, classic layout that kids will love and teachers will find both effective and easy-to-teach. The main spreads are designed to be very clear while the activity sections are designed to provide opportunities to dig a little deeper into the English language. So far it seems that we have hit a sweet spot with students, parents and teachers giving us a very big thumbs up! 

Juan: Could you share with us how you create and produce your lovely videos? 

Eric: I could, but then I'd have to kill you....

Seriously, there's no rhyme or reason to it.  Many of the videos are based around our curriculum, those are the videos that I have to make for the kids to have exposure to English outside of the classroom.  For the song videos, it's often just a lot of fun!  Sometimes I make the music first.  Sometimes the video section.  It really is all over the place.  I just try my best to use great visuals, great audio and make them fun whenever possible!
Juan: How was the partnership with Mari Nakamura and Patricia Daly Oe in Lily and the Moon? 

Eric: Mari and Patricia and I have a fantastic working relationship.  We each bring different skill sets to the table and each of these sets compliments the other.  For me, the decision to work with and publish Lily and the Moon was made a no-brainer because it meant working with two lovely human beings! 

Juan: Which message would you leave to English teachers of young learners around the world? 

Eric: I suppose I would remind other teachers to focus on being an example of a great communicator. I've found that the more I focus on sincerely trying to connect and identify with students, the more successful they become. 

Juan: Thank you so much for this great interview, Eric!!!

Would you like me to interview anybody you know? 
Do you have any suggestions for this section of the blog? 
Write me and let me know your thoughts! 

Send you all a big hug from Brazil!


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January 21, 2015

Affective Language Learning on video!

During my world tour I have had the great pleasure of being and learning with over 2500 children and 460 teachers in many different and very diverse countries. When I close my eyes I can recall the joy of children during my Buddy shows and the engagement of teachers during the affective language learning sessions I have given. Watching yourselves through the eyes of others is a very intense experience as it allows us to see how we stand, talk, and interact with others. More than that, it allows us to really rediscover who we are. 

I would like to thank Jim George from Luna International in Matsumoto, Japan and Ansemf Bae from FIN English in Daegu, South Korea for having gracefully created videos of me during my sessions and shows.  These sounds and images have allowed me to know myself better and are valuable gifts that I will keep forever. 

Thank you so much Jim and Ansemf for taking the time to create these lovely videos. 

It's my great pleasure to share them now with you. 

The first one shows scenes from the Affective Language Learning session given at JALT Shinshu in Matsumoto: 

The second one is about a frog that visited Matsumoto:

And the third one shows highlights of two shows that I did with Buddy in two different schools:

Hope you have enjoyed them as much as I do.
Which was your favourite moment? Leave me a comment!

Hugs and hugs,


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December 22, 2014

Learning English Affectively with Taboo Cards

"Whenever a taboo is broken, something good happens."
Henry Miller

I simply love playing with cards and flashcards because the number of ways in which they can be used is countless. When we, as teachers, explore and create novel ways of playing with language we allow learners to live language playfully as well. This fascination with play and language led me to write a post you might have read called "Fifty affective ways to use flashcards", in which I explored how students can live language affectively and make it their own. 

Today I explore the very famous taboo cards that probably many of you have already seen around, played with your friends, or maybe even have already used in class. Taboo is a card game in which players have to describe a thing without using the most common words associated with it. These words are considered them taboo and shouldn't be said. 

Taboo was originally designed for native English-speaking adults and one can notice that it requires a good command of language in order to play it properly. I have in this post adapted, created, and organized a list of 30 different ways in which taboo cards can be used. Enjoy it!

1. Avoiding forbidden words: in this traditional version, the player has to describe the word in red but he/she can not say the words that are in green. As you can imagine this requires a lot of language command, which is not something most students can do. In this original version, it is important to model and brainstorm with students some strategies that can be used to convey meaning when one does not know a certain word.

2 Using all the words: in a simpler variation one player has to say all the words that are in green without saying the one in red. The other player has to guess the word on top. Guessing is very easy and the real challenge is in being able to use all the words. This scaffolding builds confidence and promotes fluency.

3. Brainstorming words: in this variation one player says the word on top and the other player has to brainstorm words until he is able to complete all the words that are in the list. If words are hard, the challenging player can give the first letter of the words that are missing. The last word is usually the hardest!

4. Delivering a  speech: in a harder variation from the previous one, the challenging player says "tell me everything you know about watches" and then the other player has to build sentences talking about the topic until he/she uses all the words in the card, which are hidden from him/her. The challenging player signals and counts as the words in the card are said by the other player. A time limit can be added to add some tension.

5. Leading words to be said: here the topic is given and both players form a partnership to say the words. One player gives hints in order for the other to say the word. Let's say one player wants the other to say wrist, he/she can then say "it's where you wear it" or leave a gap for the other person to complete such as "you wear your watch around your ... ". You can have a pile of cards and count the number of cards a pair or group is able to do during a pre-established amount of time.

6. Spelling words: one player reveals the topic and he starts spelling the words that are listed. The other player has to try to discover the words before they are totally spelled.

7. Drawing words: one player reveals the topic and draws the words that described in the card for the other player to guess and write these next to the drawing that was just made. In a harder variation the topic is not revealed in the beginning.

8. Acting the words: a pair creates a small sketch and another pair has to discover the words that were represented. The acting group should really emphasize the written words and gets points if the words are correctly guessed. Here again the topic can be revealed in the beginning or not.

9. Writing a poem/ rapping the words: students can write a poem or create a rap containing all the words. The topic can be the title, part of the chorus, or even not be mentioned at all!

10. Brainstorming extra words: another way to play with taboo cards is to have students in small groups collectively saying and writing all the other words that they think go together with the topic word.

11. Checking the dictionary: students use their phones to check an online dictionary and see if the words that are listed are part of the description of the word used in the dictionary.

12. Googling words: students can google the topic word and then check if all the words in the card are found in the first three search results. Another google possibility is to type the five words and see if the topic will appear in the result.

13. Creating a crossword: students can create a crossword for the their card connecting the words in a grid and creating definitions for each one of them. A booklet with all their crosswords can be photocopied and given for all students to solve.

14. Playing the multiple hangman: the objective is for the challenged player/group to guess the topic word. In order to do this they play multiple hangman with all the describing words at the same time. Once they go figuring the words then they can guess the topic. The topic is not part of hangman and can be inside an envelope. If they guess it it wrongly the game is over.

15. Guessing with one hint at a time: one player has to guess the topic being only given one hint at a time. If they risk and it's wrong they lose their card or their turn. The player that guesses the topic keeps the card. This one was inspired by an old Brazilian TV show called "Which is the song?".

16. Making a conversation: a pair creates a conversation in which words appear in the same order in the conversation exchanges. Each exchange should have only the word that is listed without any of the other ones.

17. Unscrambling words: one player gives the topic and scrambles the letters of the listed words. The other player has to unscramble and discover the words. A harder variation is to give the scrambled words without saying what the topic is.

Bar histogram showing interviews.
18. Getting statistics: each student gets one card student talks to three other students one at a time and asks them to talk about the topic. While listening, this student marks down the number of times that the listed words are said. He/she does not interfere or reveal what the words are. Once the three conversations were held, this students reveals the statistics to the rest of the class. Here students can even be taught how to build an histogram like the one you see in the picture on the left.

19. Column Dictation: One player gets three cards and reveals the three topics. Then he/she dictates randomly the words that are in the three cards. The challenged player has to write them under the correct topic. Then players check the answers and discuss about the words that were hard and could fit more than one topic.

20. Interviewing the topic: one player or a group makes one question with every word that is listed. One person responds as being the topic. This is great fun as we have improbable situations where concepts, fruits, and professions speak!

21. Crossing cards: can you build sentences about a topic using the words from another card. This variation gets students to be playful and invent situations in which words can be combined.

The pyramid composition looks like this!
22. Writing a pyramid composition: the top sentence has the first word, the one below the first and second words, until the last one has all the five words. The composition can be done graphically centralized in a page.

23. Choosing the best words: students are asked to rate the words given in the list and put them in a list according to how relevant they think they are to describe the topic. Other words can be suggested to be included in the list.

24. Listening the words: one player makes a short composition or deliver a speech about the topic using all the words. The other player has to read it or listen to it and try to find the words that were listed. Tell students to pay attention to how words are said.

25. Making their own taboo cards: you can have students write their own cards inside a topic you are studying. Model how they can be written to make sure they are good for playing. Once you have them made you can play with them in any of the other ways described here in this post!

Most of these activities can be done both in speaking as well as in writing. I have in all activities preferred to have students in pairs as a way of maximizing student speaking time.

To get started you can:
Making the cards with the students,
Find lots of ready made cards on the internet,
Or buy the following games which have easier language for young learners.

Which is your favourite activity?
Do you have any idea that is not here?
Have you ever played taboo with your students?

Send you all a big hug from Tokyo,


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