Ultimate Communication Game

Level Aims Grammar Time Materials
junior high school to Adult Students will learn; that English is a means of communication just like Japanese, that a language can be understood by native speakers despite minor mistakes, how to manipulate some of the words and patterns they have studied. None (or all) entire period Situation sheets in JAPANESE (!!!).

Divide the class into groups of four and give each group a situation sheet. The students are given 10 -15 minutes to study their situation and prepare a skit. Of course, during this time they are allowed to use dictionaries, textbooks, and the JTE or ALT. After this period each group has to act out their situation. Depending on the group, sometimes they will all come up, sometimes just one or two. The students act as 'customers' (this is not always a literal title), and the ALT is always the 'employee' or native speaker. The students are told to use what English they know, not to worry about mistakes, and if there is something they can't say, to use gestures or draw pictures. Japanese is FORBIDDEN, both by the students and the teachers. Therefore, English mistakes are not corrected, as communication is the goal.

The ALT, acting as an employee, can make the situation more difficult depending on the level of the students. For example, in a 'buying-a-train-ticket' situation ask if they prefer an express or a local train. Remember, in a deadlock pictures are fine. While most won't understand 'airmail' or 'sea mail', they will understand a quick, crude sketch of a ship or plane.

Hints and cautions:

+ This game will only work with JTEs who are enthusiastic and have some confidence in their students' abilities. Ones that start to translate before the ALT has finished a sentence weren't meant for this.

+ Make sure the students come to the front empty handed for their acting roles. If they bring materials, it becomes a recitation exercise and loses all its effectiveness.

* Be creative in thinking up situations. Use countries the students have expressed interest in. Be humorous; make the baseball team members ask the beautiful blonde they meet for a date., etc..

* Compliment all students no matter how little they are able to accomplish. Then they'll know its meant to be fun and not a punishment. Leave correcting their English for another lesson.

* FINALLY, point out to the JTEs and students that ALTs live this kind of life everyday - using what Japanese we know and gesturing etc. - for real and not a game.

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