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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
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
* 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, http://www.efl-esl.com
offers ESL curriculum, activities, an online forum for ESL teachers
and students, plus a free ESL teachers newsletter! Their second
website http://www.esl-storybooks.com offers curriculum and
storybooks for children.