Fun activity #4 is ‘Gira la botella,’ or ‘spin the bottle.’
I forget what the original purpose of this game was (as described at the conference I went to, that is), but I tweaked it to be a game to practice idioms. I find that one of the hardest parts of vocabulary acquisition is getting students to really use idioms in their speech and writing. Part of the problem is a lack of practice in seeing and using them repetitively in a meaningful context. Imagine my dismay when I found out one of my fourth-year students who had practically memorized Luis Fonsi’s song No me doy por vencido still had no idea what the expression meant. Doh! (on me, not her) I guess songs don’t cure all ills. (Did I just write that?) Anyway, back to the game…
- In a document, make a list of common idiomatic expressions for your language, expressions you want your students to be able to use in appropriate contexts spontaneously.
- When this game is chosen as a class activity, copy and paste your list into the random chooser. Run the chooser so it selects an expression. (Be sure to use the fruit machine, not typewriter, so you can remove the option after it’s used.)
- Get your students into a circle. It’s always good to have an opportunity to change things up, and get them up and moving, eh?
- Spin a bottle in the middle of a circle. You can use any bottle but for cultural effect we use a Manzanita bottle (my favorite Mexican beverage).
- When the bottle stops, the person at whom it’s pointing begins a sentence with the idiom. For example, “No me doy por vencido en la clase de matemáticas.”
- Going clockwise, the next person has to remember exactly the sentence and add a detail: “No me doy por vencido en la clase de matemáticas por la mañana.”
- The first person to forget any of the sentence is out and has to sit down. Spin the bottle again, choose a different idiom, and keep going until you’re done (or we time our game for 10 minutes).
I imagine you could use this for any vocabulary you’re targeting and it would work the same way. I particularly like idiomatic expressions because it’s such a real way to push real communicative proficiency at every level. Have fun (but I don’t recommend including kissing).
Photo credit: Mickey Del Favero