When teaching and especially in a learner's first year or so, VERBS should be the focus. All other vocabulary won't "stick" unless there is a verb referent and so we should focus much communication on the practice/use of verbs -- the fly paper of the world of words.
Nosy Neighbors (see attached) is a perfect way to practice using verbs communicatively. It is from Jill Hadfield's great series of Communication Games. A must resource book for a teacher. It is a perfect example of a teaching material that is basic and infinitely adaptable by the teacher. Also, get The Best of here! This post reviews the game. You can also play the game using the past continuous tense - what were people doing yesterday.
1. Warm up by asking the students questions about the main handout. Or better, just give it to them and they ask questions using target language , be it past, present , future... (whatever you want to practice). Ex. "When do you usually.......? - to practice present habitual tense.
2. After they have got familiar with the vocabulary verbs - tell them that they live in a house on this street. Assign each student in the group one house Houses 1-4 and 6-9.
3. Cut up and give them their activity card. They describe what is happening / has happened/ happened or will happen in their house. The basic game is using the present tense but by using the picture cards I've made and included, you can do this for every tense / all target language.
4. As one student reads what is happening - the others draw lines from the correct house to the correct picture. They continue until all the activities are linked to houses. One house has no activity linked -
#5. Ask the students what is happening there - they should tell you - "They are having a party!"
5. Students can the ask / answer what is happening by asking each other and following the lines drawn.You can use this sheet time and time again (and the picture cards) to review all sorts of tenses. I even use it for a game of Charades.
Students choose one picture and act it out - the others guess...A very handy handout! Enjoy.
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