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Focus-on-form in a multiple intelligences game

Yumi Tanaka, Kobe Shoin Women’s University

Quick guide

  • Key words:Multiple intelligences, focus-on-form
  • Learner English level:Beginners and above
  • Learner maturity:University
  • Preparation time:15 minutes
  • Activity time:25 minutes
  • Materials:Handout

This is a language activity to improve oral English communication among students. Its communicative aim is to gather information, while its linguistic aim is to familiarize students with question forms and tense. To obtain a suitable answer during communication, students need to focus on linguistic features. The style of instruction that provides students with opportunities for concentrating on form during communication is called focus-on-form (Ellis, Basturkmen, & Loewen, 2002).
This activity is based on Find someone who… (Klippel, 1984) and the theory of multiple intelligences (MI; Gardner, 1999). Find someone who … is a common icebreaker, wherein students need to find someone who can affirmatively answer a certain question. In the activity I propose, students additionally complete a bingo sheet containing phrases based on MI theory. This theory lists eight confirmed intelligences that all humans possess in varying degrees. For example, a student who plays the piano well may have a high degree of musical intelligence. MI theory proposes that in addition to linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, other intelligences (e.g., musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist) need to be acknowledged in cultivating students’ potential. These intelligences can be thematically used in language teaching (Richards & Rodgers, 2001) by using topics related to students’ respective intelligences, interests, and preferred activities.
Step 1:Prepare a handout with the heading “Bingo Game,” the sub-heading “Find someone who …,” and a sixteen-square bingo frame with a phrase in each square. Sample phrases can include the following:
1. likes to write in a diary/blog
2. likes math
3. plays a musical instrument
4. plays sports
5. enjoys photography
6. enjoys talking to new people
7. has a clear plan for the future
8. has a pet
These eight phrases will also be written in the past tense with the phrase “when he/she was a child” added to them so that students focus on tense in order to obtain “yes” answers while playing the game (e.g., “liked math when he/she was a child”).
Step 2:Make copies of the handout (one for each student).
Step 1:Explain MI so thatstudents will not only collect information but also interpret it according to MI theory. Distribute the handout to students. Ask them to read the sixteen statements on the sheet.
Step 2:Explain that they need to ask their classmates questions related to the items on the handout and write the name of the person who first answers “yes” to each question in the relevant square. A question with a “yes” answer need not be asked again. Students should collectfour different names in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line. Each name may be written only once.
Step 3: If students appear to have difficulty understanding the activity, demonstrate it using an example from the squares. At this point, explain any unfamiliar words in the phrases in the squares. If some students appear to require encouragement or pronunciation guidance, the entire class can read all of the phrases aloud after the teacher. Finally, ensure that the students are able to formulate questions appropriately.
Step 4: Give a tip suggesting the possibility of obtaining a “yes” answer if they change the tense in their questions after obtaining a “no” answer.
Step 5: Start the game.
By incorporating theoretical reinforcement into a traditional activity, this lesson plan enables the acknowledgement of a variety of talents among students. Although it has been primarily created for university students, it could be equally suitable for high schoolers as well.
Ellis, R., Basturkmen, H., & Loewen, S. (2002). Doing focus-on-form. System, 30, 419–432.
Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed: Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York: Basic Books.
Klippel, F. (1984). Keep talking: Communicative fluency activities for language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Richards, J. C., & Rodgers, T. S. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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