Games for Grammar Practice

Title: Games for Grammar Practice
Authors: Maria Lucia Zaorob and Elizabeth Chin
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Consists of: A resource book of grammar games and interactive activities
Reviewed by: Kaithe Greene B.Ac, Cert TEFLA, Dip TESOL
Review date: September 2002

This is yet another book of photocopiable games and activities for classroom use at all levels, very useful and complete with user-friendly instructions. It's true that there are now quite a number of these books readily available in the EFL marketplace, but this is still a very useful addition to the EFL resources bookshelf. There is very little duplication of previously published material, and it is laid out in a very easily accessible and easy to use format.

The authors have obviously learned from previous experience and publications; and taken the best, left the rest and added lots of their own ingredients to come up with a very useable addition to our classroom resources. There are a number of games and activities in this book that are completely new to me, and many interesting adaptations of old favourites - the sort of creative modifications that leave you thinking "Cor - that's clever! Why didn't I think of that?" For example, there's a beautifully illustrated adaptation of noughts and crosses, which apart from use for the game and variations suggested in the book, lends itself to adaptation for a variety of other language items and levels. Indeed, the authors very helpfully offer ideas for creating one's own versions according to the students' specific needs.

What I loved about this book was the fact that the photocopiable worksheets are good clear line drawings which are cheap to copy, and look good when coloured in by younger students (perhaps as part of a drawing dictation) and laminated for future use or to decorate the classroom walls. They also copy well onto OHP transparencies, a useful extra. The index, or map of the book, as the authors have chosen to call it, is laid out very clearly. All aspects of each activity are listed logically so that it is very easy to select an activity according to structure, topic and level. This would be particularly useful for those occasions when one is required to stand in for an absent colleague at short notice! Although the authors have given suggested timings for each activity I found that most of my students were able to do a lot more linguistically, and therefore took a lot longer, with this material than I had expected. I also found that these games lend themselves to all sorts of add on and follow up activities, thus becoming more than just an activity to supplement and complement teaching input.

This book is written for busy teachers who want instant supplementary activities, which complement their coursework at all levels. It sets out to provide intensive and interactive grammar practise in a meaningful and rewarding way. It certainly succeeds very well for the elementary to intermediate levels. However, there are fewer activities, although of an equally high standard, for the beginner and advanced levels. Having said that, I used a number of these games and activities in multi-level classes and found that by careful pairing and grouping of students the increased amount of negotiation and interaction that followed was very productive.

The material in this book is ideally suited to teaching young learners and teenagers for whom this type of activity is a normal function. They all play games, they all know how to play games and they all enjoy playing games. Because all the games involve pair, group, teamwork or mingling activities there is plenty of scope for developing speaking skills (through the functions of negotiation, questions and answers, information gathering etc.,) as well as practising the grammar involved, using grammar for its function of giving meaning to words to achieve communication. I found this material equally useful in multilevel and single level classes; multilingual and monolingual classes.

Overall, this is definitely a very useful and useable book. With a little time and preparation most of the activities can be extended and/or modified to yield a lot more material than is obvious at first glance. ESL Reviews & ArticlesKaithe Greene is currently teaching in a small private language school in Spain. She also teaches on-site business courses from time to time, and yearly participates in summerschool courses in the UK.