Game Day

Have you ever seen those lists that go something like “You know you’re a teacher when…”?
My personal version is “You know you’re a languages teacher when you can think of a way to turn any kids’ game into a vocab or grammar game.” Scrabble is a no-brainer and Simon Says and What’s the time Mr Wolf? are part of the core repertoire. But this habit, which makes my kids and husband roll their eyes, goes further. A year or so ago my then 4 year old borrowed the “Cat in the Hat” board game from our local library. Two turns in I had the epiphany that I could adapt it for use with beginning students of Japanese. Instead of the English alphabet, the Hiragana script became the key learning. And yes, I got really excited by the idea… That’s probably the real reason for the eye rolling!

This evening it happened again… I was watching from the sidelines of his Aus Kick session, a beginning into the skills and rules of Australian Rules Football. Towards the end of the session the motley crew of 5-8 year olds was divided into 4 teams. Each team went to their corner of the allocated playing space. In the middle was a huge tub of footballs. They were to “rob the nest”… One person at a time from each time had to run to the middle and take a single ball back to their team as quickly as possible. When they got back, the next person ran and so on. When there were no balls remaining in the middle, they had to run to another group’s pile and “rob the nest”. When the coach called out to stop, whichever team had the most balls was declared the winner.

Needless to say, my language teaching brain started to tick over, “How can I use this? I reckon it could work…” The first question was vocabulary, script or grammar. So tomorrow I’m going to start with vocabulary for a Year 9 class. Four vocabulary categories, 6 words in each, a word per card. The cards are in a pot in the centre of the room. The aim of the game is to be the first team to get a full category set, firstly running to the middle, then robbing from other groups. They love anything competitive, they’ll need to be fast and thinking on their feet. I won’t tell them category headings, they’ll need to think through their words… Will it work?

Stay tuned…
To be continued…


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