Hi there! ^^
Whatever we were expecting, it is always a great fun to find out that boring grammar exercises can turn into really funny experiences. Yesterday, for instance, we kept practising with role-plays and how to make oral lessons seem (no pun intended), less foreign. We all took active part in these activities, and it was a real pleasure because we did what students love: we took things apart.
Some basic activities in grammar tend to present our poor, low base students with exercises worth a Sergeant's drill: "Unscramble these words! Ar! Soldier! That gap isn't meant to be filled that way! No speaking! Detention!" No reasoning and no fun. What about trying these exercises, for a change?
1- Spelling activity: Instead of boring, old fashioned 'I spell, you copy', make them write down the name of a place they know about. It can be somewhere with a funny or exotic name (Has anyone ever heard of places such as Hokkaido, Brno, Vladivostok or Peralejos de las Truchas? O.o?) They have to use vowels and consonants that are difficult or easily mistaken: g, j, a, i, e… The students get to practise without feeling restricted or ashamed of their pronunciation, because they can do this in pairs, and they get to brag about how many weird names they know! (We certainly did :P)
2- Dynamic grammar: Take a number of students and an organisator. The teacher whispers a word to each of the students. The organisator has to build up the sentence by physically moving the students and putting them into place. Contact with the students, such as making them tell the word by touching their forehead or move them around by their hands, is strongly encouraged. It makes the activity more fun!
3- Dynamic grammar 2: Once a sentence is build up, you can ask the students to link themselves according to the structure of the sentence: words belonging to the 1st part of a conditional together… Welcome to the words conga!
4- Cutting up the language: We get creative in this one, so we require a bit of material. Scan a page of a cartoon. (Lucky! We got to do this with Willy the Kid! Westerns rule! ^^). Then cut it up by separating each picture from the text. You give the students a real mess of images and sentences, according to the difficulty level they can manage, and they have to 1st join each pic with the right text, and then put the sequences in the right order. Then, you can make them change the ending, or make their own comic strip! This way you don't ask those boring questions about 'what is the character going?' that both the student and the teacher already know :P (Nice one, Tim!!)
5- Picture dictation: The teacher gets to describe a picture that the students can't see. They have to draw it, to the best of their abilities. A piece of advice: keep them! You don't know if the next Picasso is in your class!! :D You can adapt this activity to what you want them to practise: prepositions of place, for instance. And impossible pictures are funnier to draw (who can draw a cow on a roof?), as well as pictures they can recognise, funny ones, nonsense ones…
6- Picture dictation 2: One describes an image from a magazine or similar to a partner. Again, the artist mustn't see it! This sort of activities get better and better the more you practise, and language gets better as well: more precise descriptions, richer details, pointing out the differences…
7- Nice drama warm-up activity: Looking at a picture, you try to enact it mime or mannequin style by telling to somebody how you would like them to stand: 'put your hand up, bend your left wrist a little…' This can be practised by groups of two or small groups and it can be done without talking at all to correct the mistakes! It's funny as well if you get somebody to take a photo of the final result, and you compare it with the original (right, Toni?) ;)
8- Text competitive activity: Working with a story, you show it little by little, line by line. Each team has to guess which words is going to be the first one next line. The get a point if they guess the category, two points if the word is really similar and three is the get the right, exact word! You can look back at the text for references, and it includes all kind of grammar revisions. It adapts to all levels as well! And you get to show your mean, competitive streak *grin*
9- Role-play for small groups: Each of the four members get a slip of paper with detailed information on their character. They have to play their role accurately, and try to get the other characters to get along with him/her. In this game, there was a psycho, a detective, a delusional woman and a doctor. Each one has a conflictive role: one wants to drink, another one cannot allow that… The real reason must never be known! Quite a tough activity in which you get to show your performance ability, and all students can see how a little drama suddenly has a life of its own.
And this is all we did. As you can see, great fun! I guess you're all regretting not enrolling to this course!