Memory, also called pelmanism, is a versatile and useful tool for ESL teachers.
In this simple game, players lay cards face down in a grid and take turns flipping over two cards at a time looking for a match. If they find a match, they go again. If the cards are not a match, the player turns them back over and the next player goes. Most often, the game is played with two to four people at a time. You can use this easy game to teach almost any language concept. And since it is a game, your students will be engaged and will have fun. Here are some ideas on how you can use memory in your classroom.
17 Great Ways to Use This Simple Game in Your ESL Class
Pictures and Vocabulary Words
If you are teaching a set of simple vocabulary to your students, try making a copy of the page from a picture dictionary to make a set of memory cards. Have students cut out the pictures and paste them on blank index cards. Have them write the corresponding vocabulary words on a second set of cards. Shuffle, and your students are ready to play and review the words they are learning.
Words and Definitions
If your students are beyond the picture dictionary stage, you can have them match vocabulary words and their definitions in a game of memory. In this case, have students write out the definitions of several words on blank index cards and the words on other cards before playing.
Words and Synonyms
I love to teach groups of vocabulary words, and you can practice them in a game of memory. Have students write individual words on cards and their synonyms on other cards. You can have students write only two synonyms to match, or you can have them write out any even number and allow matches with any of the words.
Words and Antonyms
Like matching synonyms, you can do the same with antonyms. Have students write their target vocabulary on cards and opposites of those words on other cards. You should have one to one matches for words and their antonyms if you play this version.
Fill in the Blank with a Correct Verb Tense
If you are reviewing verb tenses, use memory to make fill in the blank exercises more fun. Have students write a sentence (with time indicators) on one card and the correct verb to complete it on another. Shuffle, lay out the cards, and then play to see who can make the most matches.
Quantifiers and Noncount Nouns
Noncount nouns can be tricky, especially when you have to remember the right quantifiers to go with each. Have students match noncount nouns and their quantifiers in a game of memory to solidify which pairs go together.
Prepositions of Time and Time Phrases
In 2015, on Wednesday, at 2 o’clock….prepositions of time can be confusing. You can have your students make several matches between prepositions of time and specific points on the calendar or clock and match them in this game.
Prepositions of Location
If you want to practice prepositions of location with your students, you can still play memory. Print out some diagrams that show the physical relationship between two objects and stick them to some index cards, and them write their corresponding prepositional phrases on a second set of cards.
Fill in the Blank with the Correct Article
Are your students studying the differences between articles in English? Use memory to play a fill in the blank style matching game with sentences and articles such as a, an, the, these, those, this, and that.
Match Words with their Contractions
How well do your students know their contractions and their sources? Check by having them match the two in this simple version of memory. Simply write the source words on one card and the corresponding contraction on the other. If you really want to challenge your students, include the cards their, there, and its that will have no matches.
Abbreviations and their Words
In a similar vein to contractions, have students match abbreviations to common words in English. You might include abbreviations for days of the week, months of the year, or geographical locations.
Irregular Past Tense Verbs
Matching irregular verbs to their past tense forms is a simple and fun version of memory. The prep is also very easy since each card only needs one word written on it, and your students probably have a list of irregular verbs somewhere in their grammar text book.
Phrasal Verbs Breakdown
Do your students get down, boogie down, lay down or all of the above? You can use memory to practice phrasal verbs when your students match the two words in the verb to each other in a simple game of memory.
Match Minimal Pairs
If you are working on pronunciation with your students, have them match minimal pairs (words that vary in only one sound such as bat and cat). Your students will have to look beyond the spelling of the words on the card and remember how each is pronounced to find the correct matches in this version of the game.
Match Same Vowel Sounds
Another way to use memory in testing pronunciation is to have students match words which have the same vowel sound. Again, students will have to look beyond the spelling of English words to get their matches correct.
Match Questions and Answers
Matching questions and answers can be used for all types of language instruction. You can use them to review question and statement formation. You can use them to test the meaning of who, what, where, when, why, and how. You can even use them to test reading comprehension.
The Phonetic Alphabet
If you have taught your students the phonetic alphabet to help their pronunciation and listening comprehension, you can review that in a game of memory, too. Write out some words out with traditional English spelling as well as phonetic transcription. Have students match the two to each other.
As you can see, memory can be used loads of different ways in the ESL classroom. These are just some ideas for you. And whatever you are teaching in class right now, you can probably find some version of memory that will work for you.
What other versions of memory have you used in your class?
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