Memory game: progressive deletion on board


‘Key phrases’ are everywhere in BE – they are a large part of the language input for communication skills. They need practising, and this is one of many posts to help do that.


1 Write up on the board a series of numbered key phrases from the last lesson. For example, some phrases for beginning and ending a telephone call, or writing an enquiry email, or developing an argument in a meeting.

2 Point to phrase #1 and ask students to chorally repeat the whole phrase a couple of times. Say it yourself first as a model then conduct with your hand (a quick sweep round the room) to indicate choral repetition.

3 Now wipe out just a couple of words, to leave blank spaces on the board inside or at the end of the phrase. This time don’t give a model before the choral repetition – you want the students to remember the words. So just say ‘one, two, three’ and then use the quick sweep action to conduct choral repetition again. It’s the same phrase so students should have no problems remembering it just yet.

4 Continue wiping out words from phrase #1, one or two at a time. Each time follow with a sweep of your hand to conduct choral repetition. Repeat until all the words are gone and the students are just looking at the number 1 on the board followed by a completely blank space. They will still manage to repeat the phrase on your cue, and this should begin to produce some amusement.

5 Move on to phrase #2 and repeat as above until it too is just a number on the board followed by a blank. After the students have successfully chanted that phrase, go back and point at #1 again, and again give a sweep of your hand. The fact that they can still chant phrase #1 even though the board is blank should definitely provoke laughter.

6 Continue like this, and after each new phrase has been completely wiped out (leaving just the number) and chanted successfully, go back randomly to revise all the others. The idea is that at the end you will have only the numbers left on the board, with blank spaces after all of them. Pointing to the spaces should bring choral repetition with a lot of laughter!

One Comment


Nice exercise, Paul. I use some similar activity, which I guess could be added as a final step to this choral drill, since it builds on ‘using’ the words. I give Ss a ball, and prompt them to create a correct sentence using one random word or expression from the whiteboard. If the sentence is correct, then, he/she tosses the ball to another student who has to do the same. Meanwhile, I set a timer for, say, 1 or 2 minutes, and when it beeps, the person who has the ball must complete in a row the expressions that haven’t been already deleted (of course, the rest of the class end up joining in solidarity!).


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