Number one for English language teachers

Memory games: Clap back

Level: Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Extra

Clap back is good for breaking the ice in a lesson, getting a little energy into the classroom, improving pronunciation and developing general memory skills.

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I live and teach English in Wellington, New Zealand, I have previously taught in Qingdao, China. My warmer is a game that I call Clap back.

Procedure

  • The class stands in a circle and each student chooses (or is assigned) one word relating to a specified topic. For example, the topic may be health and students may have words such as hospital, nutrition, illness, etc.
  • The students must try to remember each others' words.
  • One student starts by clapping in the direction of the student on his/her left or right and simultaneously saying (or shouting!) the word of that student. That student then continues by clapping back to the first student or on to the next and saying the corresponding word.
  • The game proceeds in this way until a student says the wrong word or fails to react within a given time (three seconds for example), in which case he/she is out of the game - he/she leaves the circle and then the game continues until only two remain.

This game has often led to a class full of laughter and students repeating each others words long after class, thus it is ideal for getting students to remember target vocabulary.

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