• Great Whole-Class Game for ESL Listening Skills

Cover Team A shot

This game has it all:

  • Motivates listening skills.
  • All students focused.
  • Students are up and out of their seats.
  • Easily customized to the interests and level of a specific class of students.
  • Organized with minimal teacher work.
  • Stimulating with a lot of laughing.

Here is how it works.

Step 1: In advance, the teacher writes some questions with one-word answers.

Step 2: On two large sheets of paper* taped to the wall/board or on two parts of the white/black board, the teacher writes two identical charts with all the one-word correct answers and incorrect answers spaced apart.  (For example: Question: “What color is the sky?” On the board, “green” and “blue” are written.) (*See below for suggestion about sheets of paper.)

The two charts look like this:

Team A B shot

Step 3: The students are divided into two teams.  They can be divided at random or males vs females or according to countries or according to last names alphabetically etc.

Step 4: Two “hot-seat” chairs/desks are set facing the charts about 7-10 paces (or more) away from the charts.

Step 5: One member from each team sits in the hot seat and holds a marker or piece of chalk.

Step 6: The teacher reads the first question at random.

Step 7: The “hot-seat” members immediately scan the chart for the answer, jump out of their seats, run to their teams’ chart, and circle the correct answer on their charts. The one who circled first wins a point for his/her team.

Step 8 and beyond: A different member from each team takes the hot seat. Steps 6 & 7 are repeated.

Yes, the game has it all.

  • Motivates listening skills. Needless to say, the students really want to understand the question in a natural context. There is no time for translating.
  • All students focused. Not only the member in the hot seat, but all the members are carefully listening and scanning for the answer.
  • Students are up and out of their seats. This is a stimulating change from the daily routine of classes.
  • Easily customized to the interests of a specific class of students. This is one of the most creative aspects for the teachers. We can include questions that are directly related to the interests of the students and to things that they’ve been studying in the class. Some sample questions:

               When will we have our next quiz?  (On the chart: Tuesday Wednesday)

               Who is the tallest student in this room? (On the chart: Kenji Sharif)

              Do you have any children? (On the chart: No, I don’t.  No, I won’t.)

              What country is Missy from? (On the chart: China Japan Korea)

               In the story that we listened to last week, what is name of the old man?
              (On   the chart:  Josh  Bill)

             What is the past tense of the verb “buy”? (On the chart: brought bought)

             What is the subject in this sentence: “At noon, the workers will eat their
              lunch  at a restaurant.” (On the chart:  noon, workers, lunch restaurant)

  • Easily customized to the level of a specific class of students.

            (Lower-level students): Is today Friday? (On the chart:  Yes  No)

           Where do people swim? (On the chart:  in a pool  in a bank)

            Circle the word that is an adjective? (On the chart:  summer  yellow)

You can also choose the question according to the ability of a specific student in that class. If the student in the hot seat is a bit lower in listening skills, you can ask an easier question.

  • Organized with minimal teacher work. It only takes a few (enjoyable) minutes to write the questions and put the answers on the charts.
  • Stimulating with a lot of laughing. So often it happens that the students who are not in the hot seat usually can silently find the answer quicker.

* I’ve found it a time-saver to get a roll of large brown paper and make the charts.  Then students circle the correct word/phrase using a piece of chalk.  When we finish, I can wipe off the chalk and re-use that chart with different questions and/or re-use those same questions the next term.

On a different topic, during these challenging times in the world, I wish all of you the best of good health.

David Kehe


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s