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ESL Bingo!

By George Stocker

One of our customers recently wrote to me with some feedback on our bingo games. I thought her comments were so typical and highlighted some misunderstandings and problems with ESL bingo.

Her comments were --

It took a long time for my students to learn how the game is played but once they did they had a lot of fun.

This is a very typical comment and illustrates a ms-conception. If native speakers were to play the same bingo game, it would be simple because we understand the vocabulary and the rules. And if we had questions about the rules, we could easily consult the rules and clarify our concerns.

However, for a native speaker, the situation is very different. They don't understand the vocabulary, not the rules, where are in a foreign language. So, it is going to take some time to set up, and probably the first game will be difficult, but after that, our experience is students can't get enough!

Here are some pointers and suggestions for playing bingo:

* Prepare before you start. Before class, review the vocabulary and make a note of any difficult words. Before actually playing the game, introduce the words. This can be made into a game as well. Instead of simply telling students the definitions, say something like, "If you are going to win, you will need to know these words. Here are some clues for winning." or "I'm going to tell you 3 clues, are you listening?"

* The first game MAY be difficult, but preparation will help. With proper preparation, you will see a huge change on the second or third game. They are so eager to win they will learn the rest of the vocabulary themselves.

* Students love to help each other, and love to be the one that 'knows.' Use this to your advantage by allowing students to work together for the first game. Depending on the group, you may want to allow some helping and working together on the second game as well. After that, students should have a grasp of the game and some of the vocabulary to play without sharing or helping.

We have found Bingo to be an excellent supplemental activity for ESL students. If played at the end of the class, students leave their English class feeling positive and look forward to coming back.

About The Author
George and Daisy Stocker have traveled the world teaching

ESL to children and adults. Their website, ESL Activities

offers ESL curriculum, activities, an online forum for ESL teachers

and students, plus a free ESL teachers newsletter! Their second

website Children's ESL offers curriculum and

storybooks for children.

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