Directions Game

I added a game to the Resources page that practises giving directions. I use it especially with Junior/Senior High School kids. Usually the language of commands is introducted, understandable enough, with giving directions around town (turn left at High Street). The problem, however, is that Japan doesn’t have any real street names. There is a conceptual problem as the activity doesn’t match their own schema of ‘giving directions’. I’ve found a way around this is to create a new schema of ‘game’ with a grid layout:

Student A: Where is the strawberry?

Student B: Go straight. Turn left at C. Turn right at A. Turn left at V. Go straight. It’s number 24.

The students enjoyed the ‘game’ element (I put them into teams and made it a race) and it seemed to make more sense to them.


Activity: Finite as negotiation

Here’s an activity adapted from Jones’ ‘Functional Grammar in the ESL classroom’ but one I’ve used especially for Junior High young learners (or possibly false beginner adults). It features the Finite as a resource for arguing a proposition, and some basic grammatical metaphor. The activity is a conversation:
A: Do you want a sandwich?
B: No, I don’t. Thanks.
A: What do you want then?
B: I want a hotdog.
A: You don’t want a sandwich?
B: No, I want a hotdog.
A: You don’t want a hotdog!
B: Yes, I do. I do want a hotdog!
A: No, you don’t.
B: Yes, I do!
A: Do not!
B: Do too!
A: Don’t!
B: Do!

The activity is then to gradually scaffold the conversation. First, go through the conversation together bit by bit, focusing especially on intonation and stress to emphasize the marked Finite and polarity Then, blank out all of the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s on a separate sheet and have the students write them back in. As a kind of game, the students then role-play the conversation and the winner can be whoever is loudest at the end. The students enjoy it as they get the shout but it also highlights the Finite as the nub of negotiation.

Activity: I wish I could fly

Here is a quick and simple activity for Elementary or Junior High students that highlights the importance of stress for New information. It followed on from a lesson using “I wish…”.
First, at the top of the whiteboard, write the following three sentences:
1. I wish I could fly.
2. I wish I could fly.
3. I wish I could fly.
The student’s form two lines at the rear of the class. The teacher then says one of the sentences. The front two students run and write the number of the sentence and back. The first student back is the winner. That student then comes out of the line and says the next sentence. The team with all students out of the line is the winner.

Further to this game, another activity that then puts the Expression into the context of a dialogue was to put students into pairs and practise a dialogue such as:

A: I wish I could play the piano!

b: Well, I wish I could play the drums!


Activity: TPR, Directions and Interpersonal Semantics

Recently, I’ve been spending more time with lower level learners on the Interpersonal semantics of exchange. This is a short activity that tries to highlight the differences between giving/demanding information and giving/demanding service in a more physical way. It is based on a ‘Giving Directions’ lesson and is a kind of TPR game.

First, highlight on the whiteboard the four (although the game concentrates mainly on the first three):

  1. Demanding Information: Where is the station?/Is it far?
  2. Demanding Service: Turn left.
  3. Giving Information: It’s on the left.
  4. Giving Service: Shall I take you?

The game is then very simple. All the students stand and the teacher reads a line of script from a ‘Giving Directions’ lesson and the students must perform an action that reflects the role of the listener. If the line is 1., the students point (showing). If the line is 2., the students walk once on the spot (action). If the line is 3., the students put their hand to their ear (listening). If a student makes a mistake, he or she sits down. The last one standing is the winner. To make the game increasingly more difficult, the lines can be spoken more quickly so that students have to focus mainly on intonation and initial sounds, or lines can be combined so that students have to perform two or more actions, e.g. When you reach the corner (3.), turn left (2.).

One tricky point that can also be introduced is the difference between Turn left, Demanding Service, and You turn left, Giving Information. I think the difference between them is one of expectation. For Turn left, the speaker expects that the action will be carried out immediately, whereas for You turn left the expectation is that this is just information that may or may not be acted upon at a later date. This can be a difficult concept. I often try to use the difference between giving directions on the street (more likely to be acted upon) and giving direction in a tourist information centre (information).


Activity: verbal and relational clauses

Here is a quick activity I often do with young learners or lower level students. It’s a quick way to highlight the difference between relational and verbal clauses.

All you need is two sets of animal cards (or any semantic set really), one with the picture and one with the name of the animal printed. The game is then a simple pelmanism game but, as they turn over each card, they have to say either ‘This is (Process: relational) a dog’ for the picture or ‘This says (Process: verbal) “dog”‘ for the printed word. It’s useful also to point out the difference between the relational ‘a dog’ with the article and how the verbal “dog” is said exactly as it is written without the article.