Thanks to an idea from prolific blogger Larry Ferlazzo, I introduced a fun, new speaking activity to my class this week. He posted a link to a game called Word Sneak that Late Show host Jimmy Fallon played on his show. I was able to use it to practice conversation management and to recycle new vocabulary.
The game is pretty simple in theory: each person gets five words that they have to casually and seamlessy work into the conversation.
I did the activity it with an advanced class. First, I checked their understanding of the word “sneak”. I then played the clip from the TV show and afterwards had the students explain the rules to me. We watched it again and I asked the students to pay attention to the ways the two speakers managed to steer the conversation to new topics. What language did they use to casually introduce a new topic? Afterwards, I asked them to suggest other ways they can both acknowledge what their conversation partner has said and also steer the conversation in a new direction. They came up with gambits like, “Speaking of …” “That reminds me of…”
I put the students in groups of three and handed out five cards to each person. On the cards I had written some words that we had studied in previous weeks. This was a good chance to recycle some vocabulary. I also included some unexpected, random words to make sure the conversation didn’t get too serious (elephant, fire-eater, Batman…) And then they were off. It turned out to be a fun speaking activity that I’ll use again. Now that they know how to play, maybe next time I will have pairs of students make the cards for other pairs.
Word Sneak could also be adapted for a writing activity. Give a pair of students five cards in total. These could be a combination of recycled vocabulary and random words. The task is to incorporate these words into a story.
First, the pair writes the opening sentence of a story. Then they turn over the first card and incorporate it in their story. They then do the same with the remaining cards. When finished, students read their stories to the class.