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Teaching Ideas for the ESL Classroom
Teaching is one of the easiest jobs in the world...
...Teaching WELL is one of the most difficult!

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Speaking Bingo!

Everybody loves to play Bingo. However, the usual version of the game only uses numbers and letters, which is not very useful for ESL students. Many teachers improve the game by using words instead of numbers. Teacher Joe takes Bingo to an even higher level by using questions and answers to make Speaking Bingo, giving students real speaking practice.

Preparing Speaking Bingo takes a little time, but you can easily reuse the game in future classes, so it's worth it. Start by choosing a key question from your textbook and think of 16 possible answers. For beginners, Teacher Joe has used questions such as "What do you like to eat?". For intermediate level students, you could use questions such as "What do you have in your hand?" (you must print some vocabulary words for students to keep in their hands) or "What country would you most like to visit?".

You can choose any question at all, or you could choose vocabulary from the textbook first, then find suitable questions to match later. Use these to fill in a four by four chart, as in the example below. (Notice that there are two rather odd - and easy - words on the card. Of course, students can walk. Of course, they can eat. This will get them to laugh a bit and also gives them two "free" squares.)

Speaking Bingo
"Can you ... well?"
dance for three hours?

ice skate?

draw pictures well?


speak a third language?

travel often?


cook something delicious?

play tennis?

touch your nose with your tongue?

sing well?

play the guitar?

run fast?


see without glasses?

make a paper airplane?

Before starting the game, you may need to prepare the students by practicing sentences or vocabulary. You could also call up two students to model asking and answering one question. You also MUST give clear instructions before students begin. Here are Teacher Joe's rules, but you can add some of your own.

1. Use English only.
2. Take turns asking and answering one question.
3. Move around the room asking other students and answering their questions.
4. Answer with a complete sentence.
5. When you get a positive answer, write that person's name under the question.
6. If you don't understand your partner, use the control questions we studied before.
7. The first three students to get four consecutive names earn 10 bonus points.
8. The first student to fill in all 16 boxes with names earns 1 million bonus points!
Although these may seem like a lot of rules, you only need to explain them in detail the first time you play Bingo with a class. The second time may need a quick reminder, but not much more.

This game could take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes, depending on how much preparation students need and how much feedback you want to give at the end. Have fun!

"... and Bingo was his name-oh!"

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