A web site for the developing language teacher

The new requirement in the 21st century TEFL classroom: entertaining grammar
by Jerry Istvan Thekes
- 5

Galapagos islands
Grammar McNugget: future simple
Level: elementary
Material: plenty of pictures and tools

The Galapagos islands game is focused on teacher future simple (shall/will) as it is such a huge grammar McNugget that the teaching of it has to be divided into separate chunks (islands per se). The future simple is used for expressing promises, requests, offers, suggestions, refusals, predictions and even commands. The teaching of them should take place in different islands of the classroom archipelago.
The teacher has to make sure that by arriving plenty of time prior to the lesson, they can set the classroom up for the seven uses of the future simple, which means seven different tables. The teaching of predictions and forecasts should be aided by pictures of weather conditions and those of fortune tellers in order for the learners to act out future predictions. The teaching of requests should be aided by pictures of housework in order for the students to act out conversation within a family who divide tasks among one another by making requests.
The teaching and presenting of all the seven functions have to be executed at seven different islands (tables around the classroom). The aim of using the classroom in such a way is to build on kinesthetics, indicate that 'will' and 'shall' are used for a lot of different functions and to de-stress the learners.

Wishes game
Grammar McNugget: I wish, If only
Level: elementary
Material: an apparel of a goldfish, in case of lack of one, a picture of a gold fish, slips of paper with good things written on them such as 'marry a beautiful woman', 'meet Cheryl Cole', 'travel to Kiribati, etc

The idea is taken for Hemingway's book entitled 'The old man and the sea' according to whose story the goldfish offers three wishes to the old fisherman. Students take turns in acting out the dialogue between the goldfish and the old fisherman. One student should be assigned both roles in the midst of the activity. It distress the students if one student can be dressed up as the goldfish that's why having the costume would be beneficial but absolutely not necessary if the teacher does not or cannot have one. The learner acting in the role of the old man take three slips, of cards and has to say three wished with the help of them starting their sentences with either 'I wish' or 'If only'. The teacher has to make sure they use the grammar structure well as it is meant to be a grammar-focused game.

The goldfish has only one line: 'I will make three wishes of yours come true, go ahead with telling them to me'. Then the old fisherman students have to create sentences such as 'I wish I met Cheryl Cole', I wish I could live in a big detached house'. The teacher has to make sure that they write the statements on the slips of paper in present tenses so that the learners will be challenged to make the correct 'I wish' sentences.

Six grammar games have been presented. It has been emphasized in the article that teaching grammar McNuggets has to be an entertaining and interesting activity which involves the students. It has been underlined that providing stimulus, the teaching of grammar needs not only to be entertaining but it also must include a lot of visuals. By describing the Dynamic places, Abstract pictures, Nylon bag, Bermuda game, Galapagos islands and Wishes games, the article has tried to argue for implicit way of teaching grammar. Such reputed authors as Thornbury, Swan, Medgyes and Rinvolucri have been cited in the effort of giving evidence to the importance of entertainment in the classroom.

Brumfit, Ch; Bowers, R. eds. (1994). Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching, MacMillan, London
Dörnyei, Z., Csizér, K. (1999). Ten Commandments for Motivating Language Learners. Language Teaching Research
Hadfield, Jill (1992). Classroom Dynamics. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Krashen, S. (1987). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
Krashen, S. D. & Terrell, T. D. (1983). 'The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition in the Classroom.' London: Prentice Hall Europe.
Larsen-Freeman, D. 1991. 'Teaching Grammar' In: Celce-Murcia, M. ed. 1991. TESOL and TEFL , Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest
Lowe, M (2010). 'Is grammar innate?' In: Modern English Teacher 2010 Vol. 19 No 4 pp. 58-63
Medgyes, P. (1995) The Non-Native Teacher. London: MacMillan Publishers.
Mumford, Simon (2008). 'Picture This!' Modern English Teacher Vol 17 No 2 pp. 40-42
Richard-Amato, P. (1988). Making it happen. New York: Longman
Richards, Jack C. (1987). The Context of Language Teaching Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Rinvolucri, M. (1995). Grammar games. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Rosenberg, R. (2009). Tools for activating materials and tasks in the English language classroom. English Teaching Forum No. 4 2009 pp. 2-11
Rutherford, William E. (1989). Second Language Grammar: Learning and Teaching. Longman, New York
Scarcella, R. & Oxford, R. L. (1992). The Tapestry of Language Learning. Boston: Heinle and Heinle
Spada, N (1986). 'Some effects of the interaction between type of contact and instruction on the L2 proficiency of adult learners'. In: Studies in Second Language Acquisition 8: 181-99
Swan, M. (1985). A Critical Look at the Communicative Approach. ELT Journal 39 (2): 76-87.
Swan, Michael (2002). 'Seven Bad Reasons for Teaching Grammar – and two good reasons for teaching some.' In Richards and Renandya eds. Methodology in Language Teaching. , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Thornbury,S. (2010). G is for Grammar MacNugget. Online:
Ur, Penny (1991). Grammar Practice Activities A Practical Guide for Teachers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Wright, Andrew; Betteridge, David; Buckby, Michael (2009). Games for Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Xiao-Yun, Y. (2010). 'Interactive grammar teaching' Modern English Teacher. Volume 17 No. 3 p 34-37


Jerry Istvan Thekes is Director of Studies at IFF Iskola Hungary-Romania (the largest central European private language academy) He holds an MA TESOL and has received his TEFL Certificate in Barcelona. He has been involved with TEFL for 11 years. He has just completed his 6-week teaching project in Saudi Arabia. Jerry has been invited as a presenter to TEFL conferences in Timisoara, Sarajevo, Izmir and Athens this year.

To the beginning of the article

Print-friendly article

To the article index

Back to the top

Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page

Copyright 2000-2016© Developing