This is an activity that I used as a warmer with my classes last week with great results! It works really well for vocabulary review, with lower levels, but also with extending and developing the range of vocabulary that exam classes use when they are confronted by images.
- Select an image to use. It could be topic related to reflect a particular lexical set (e.g. one of Carl Warner’s foodscapes to review food vocabulary with a lower level group) or more general.
- Students work in groups of three. Each student has three lives. Students have to say something they can see in the picture. If they can’t, they lose a life. The winner is the last person to still have a life left. There should be no repetition of items and students can challenge if they think someone is making it up!
- Show students the image and off they go!
With my exam classes I introduced a couple of variations – I selected pictures that were linked by theme, such as might appear in a First or Advanced speaking exam, and they weren’t allowed to use single words. They had to use collocations or at least add a layer of additional description or comment to the item. So they couldn’t say “a car” but they had to say something like “an ugly green car” or “a vintage BMW”. They found this quite challenging, but reacted well to it and I found that when they then went on to do a comparison and evaluation task (like the speaking part two), they were able to not only do it more effectively, but also to demonstrate a stronger range of lexis.
With my young learners I found that weaker students, perhaps not surprisingly, were out of the game quite quickly, so as an alternative I gave the groups two minutes to write down as many items as they could and then did a board race to get the language up onto the board – with the proviso that there be no repetition across groups (so if group A writes “balloons” up, none of the other groups can). This made it more collaborative initially, still keeping the competition element, and added another layer of peer teaching.