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Activities for Large Classes: Tell Me About Your House…

Writer(s): 
Jim Chapman, Nanzan University

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: Large classes, prepositions of location, furniture, teams
  • Learner English level: any level, mixed levels
  • Learner maturity: N/A
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Activity time: 30-45 minutes
  • Materials: Handouts (see Appendix A), scissors, and glue for each team

It can be challenging to manage large groups (35+) of students while keeping everyone interested. This is an active, noisy, info-gap activity requiring students to combine several teaching points: the names of furniture, prepositions of location, and basic survival phrases such as “Could you repeat that?” I always make this a competition where teams of three to five students compete against each other for a bonus point, no homework, or the chance to leave early. Students have commented frequently how much they like working with different classmates each week. This activity offers a re-invigorating break from textbook-based lessons but retains a pedagogical focus through reinforcing several teaching points at one time. Teachers can use this activity to energize a quiet class or to start off the lesson with a bang. 

Preparation

Each team requires one blank copy of the floor plan, one copy of the furniture, a pair of scissors, and a glue stick. One large master floor plan (two A3 sheets preferably) with the furniture already affixed must be prepared in advance.

Procedure

Step 1: The instructor divides the class into teams of four. Each team must choose two sitting members and two moving members. The sitting members remain at their seats and are given the blank apartment floor plan, scissors, glue, and a printout of the furniture items (teams should be spaced apart if possible). 

Step 2: The moving members from each team move to the front of the room and are given the materials to deliver to their teams. When they return to the front, they are shown the master floor plan with the furniture affixed and the room names written in the blank spaces.

Step 3: The teacher instructs the moving members to tell their sitting partners the location on the floor plan of each of the furniture items, but they cannot leave the assigned space at the front of the room -- they must tell their team, not show them. It may be helpful to establish an area where movers can freely roam back and forth between the master floor plan and the edge of the area closest to their team (see Appendix B).

Step 4: The teacher says “Go!” and movers start shouting information to their teammates—“There is a table in front of the TV, ” “The dining room is next to the kitchen,”—while sitting members listen, ask questions to clarify and cut and paste furniture in the correct location on the blank floor plan. Upon completion, the teacher lifts up each team’s paper to ensure that all items are securely attached and awards points as appropriate. 

*** There are three mystery items on the balcony that students must explain and sitting members must draw the items in the correct location: a pool, a BBQ, and a slide.

Alternatives

  • Movers and sitters change places after 10 minutes.
  • A second master floor plan can be prepared and set at the back of larger rooms.
  • At the end, students report back about the floor plan for additional team points: “there is a sofa in the living room next to the book case.” 
  • Students compare the floor plan to their own houses, “there is a sofa in my living room, too!”
  • Students prepare a short report about their own houses for homework.

Conclusion

This is an interactive exercise for large groups that can serve as a functional reinforcement of in-class study points or as a lesson wrap up activity. It is a noisy but energetic activity that my students enjoy. It can easily be adapted for lower or mixed levels by arranging teams accordingly and can be effective for classes of all ages. My mature students commented that it is the most fun they have ever had in an English class! 

Appendix

The appendix is available below.

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