There are many situations where it isn’t possible to use technology in the classroom. Tekhnologic lite is dedicated to the activities and plan B’s that can be used when things go wrong or when there just isn’t the time or the resources. Click here to view the previous post in the series.
I enjoy using classroom activities that encourage students to chorus new vocabulary by themselves.
Word Snap is what I call this activity, but it is not a new idea and I am not the first person to write about it.
I stumbled across a great post back in May 2013 via the Teaching English – British council Facebook page. It was a post by another blogger¹ who wrote about an activity they thought could be the greatest ever icebreaker. Well, possibly.
Unfortunately, the original post isn’t available for me to link to, but I remember that it linked to this video and the author wondered how students would respond to the game in EFL classes.
The video introduces a word game from the band OK Go. The game is called Say the Same Thing².
When I first watched the video, I thought that using the activity as it is described in the video would be a challenge for fluent speakers with a large vocabulary. How could I adapt the game for lower-level learners?
So, I decided to use vocabulary sets.
The first time I used it, I used the vocabulary presented in the coursebook I was teaching. If there were 10 words to learn, I would separate them out into two groups of five words.
I wrote the words into two boxes and introduced them to the class. I then decided to model the activity with three other students at the front of the class. We practiced snapping our fingers at the same time and counting 1, 2, 3. I told the students that after three I wanted them to say one of the words from the list.
1, 2, 3…
Sometimes a student will respond too late. So, a quick recap of the instructions and few ‘ahhs’ and nods.
1, 2, 3…
Everyone speaks! All different words.
1, 2, 3…
A couple people with the same word. We nearly did it.
1, 2, 3…
Everyone says the same word! And there is a feeling of satisfaction. The first five words are done. Now for the next set of five.
Soon the entire class is divided up into groups of four. It started off a little quiet and then the giggling started, then the laughing and the shouts of “yeah!” were heard when students said the same word.
While the students were playing, I walked around listening for any words that were being mispronounced.
After the lesson I thought about the activity and what it achieved.
It introduced the vocabulary using rhythm, it gamified the chorusing of the vocabulary so that the students chorus themselves rather than repeating after a teacher, the students had fun and they were encouraged to work together as groups rather than individuals.
How successful this activity will be is ultimately up to the students in your class, It likely more suited to teenagers than Business English classes. However, after the first time I tried it, I was so glad I stumbled across that post and this video.
Since then, this kind of activity has been a part of my bag of tricks, but I have tried different variations of it.
The reason I chose to call it Word Snap is because it doesn’t have to be the same word, it can just be a matching word.
Adapting the game to use sets of synonyms, antonyms and word associations meant that students could play the game to help expand their vocabulary.
Pairs work well for these variations and they make an easy extension to matching tables. Where one word from the first list is matched to a word from the second list.
Words with Similar Meanings
Write two lists of words on the board. Each list with no more than five words. The first list of words are words your students already know, the second is a list of synonyms.
The synonyms are words that have a similar meaning, for example, big and huge.
Start the activity. One student says big, while the other student says huge. That is a word snap.
Words with Opposite Meanings
Write two lists of words on the board. Each list with no more than five words. The first list of words are words your students studying and the second is a list of antonyms.
The antonyms are words that have the opposite meaning, for example, big and small.
Start the activity. One student says big, while the other student says small. That is a word snap.
Write two lists of words on the board. Each list with no more than five words. The first list of words are words your students studying. Elicit word associations from your students.
If you wrote big and small in your first list, they may come up with big house and small apartment.
Write the word associations on the board next to the first list.
Start the activity. One student says big, while the other student says house. That is a word snap.
Leave a comment if you play a similar game with your classes, or if you have played other variations.
Thanks for reading and take care!
¹ The domain that hosted the original post is no longer available. I think the post was by AlienTeachers (or at least an earlier version of their site) but I am far from certain. If you recognize the description of the post, please contact tekhnologic and credit will be assigned.
² Visit the Official Website of Say the Same Thing for more information.