Even the best planners in the teaching world find themselves with five minutes to fill from time to time.
Be prepared for these small gaps with these simple listening games that require no special equipment and can be done in the few minutes you need to fill.
6 Quick Activities to Fill 5 Minutes in Listening Class
Two Truths and a Lie
This is a classic ice-breaker, but it is fun for students who have been in class together for a while as well. Challenge each person to come up with three statements about herself two of which are true and one of which is a lie. Invite one student at a time to share their statements with the rest of the class. Your students will have to listen closely to try and spot the lie among the truths. Give students a chance to guess which statement is the lie before revealing the truth. Let as many students share as you have time for. If some students do not get to share their statements, just keep them handy for another day, another five minutes to fill.
This game is not only good for listening, it gets students up and moving. Start by arranging the chairs in your classroom in a circle. You should have one less chair than student. One person stands in the middle of the circle. Her object is to make her classmates move so she can snatch a seat. To do so, she states something she has never done. Anyone else in class who has never done that thing must get up from his seat and move to another seat in the circle. For example, the student in the center of the circle might say she has never been to South America. Every student in class who has never been to South America must then get up from their seat and find another seat. The student in the center will also try to grab a seat in the melee. Once all the chairs are filled, you will have one student in the center of the circle. That person makes the next statement that gets the class moving. Continue playing until you have no more time to fill.
Five Things I’ve Done Today
This activity involves everyone in class, and the longer the game goes on the more difficult it gets. Start with one student sharing five things he has already done today (or two or three depending on the language level of your students). Then have the next student share five things she has already done today. She cannot, however, repeat any of the things the first person shared. Continue with one student at a time sharing five things they have done, no repeats allowed. Students will have to listen to their classmates to make sure they don’t repeat anything anyone else has said and that no one makes a statement that has already been made. By the time the last person goes, your students will have to be very creative with their statements.
The classic game of telephone is great for filling a few minutes in class. Start by whispering a sentence to one student. The more complicated the sentence, the tougher the activity will be. That student then whispers it to the student next to him and so on until the last student receives the whisper. Students are only allowed to say the sentence one time. If they mishear what their classmate said, they must make the closest approximation they can when they repeat the sentence. Once the last person has heard the statement, she speaks it aloud for the class. Then tell your class what the original statement was. The closer the final student is to the original statement, the better job the class did passing the message.
Lineup games are great for filling time, and they are a simple way for students to have short conversations with each other. Challenge your students to line up according to birthday – January first to December 31st. Then give students a time limit and see if they can get in the correct position by the end of the time. You don’t have to limit this activity to birthdays, however. You can have students line up by age, height, home country from east to west, favorite color from red to purple, etc. Be creative, and use this activity to reinforce vocabulary or topics you are teaching in other areas of class.
You’ll need just a couple of minutes to prep this game which tests students’ listening skills and reading speed. Start by writing twenty to thirty words on your board. These can be common English words or specific vocabulary words you are teaching. It is also helpful if you have several words with similar pronunciation to choose from. Then divide your class into two teams and have your teams line up. One person from each team comes to the front of the room. You then say a word aloud, and the two students at the board race to swat the word that they heard. The first one to swat the correct word scores a point for their team. Play until one team reaches ten points or until you run out of time.
Whatever you decide to do to fill those five minutes, keep three things in mind.
First, keep your fill-in activities short. You don’t want to fill five minutes with a fifteen minute activity you’ll have to continue the next day. Second, make sure you don’t need any special supplies for your activities. You should be able to do your fill in activity with nothing other than your normal classroom supplies. Finally, try to pick activities that suit the abilities of your class. Don’t expect beginning students to have an advanced level discussion. Likewise, don’t give advanced students an activity so simple a beginner can accomplish it without effort. If you keep these things in mind, you’ll have no problem filling in five minutes whenever you need to.