Be verb: I am, You are Game

One of the specific questions today was how to teach grammar. I got this a lot in India as well. The thing with Genki English is that you don’t explicitly teach grammar. The kids learn it from context. This is a much better way than the traditional “identify the nouns in this sentence” approach which helps no one to communicate better. For example you learn “a” and “an” and “this” and “that” in the Fruit Market song without even thinking about it. Many of the GE songs are designed like this.

One follow up question was then to ask “What about teaching the verb to be i.e. I am, you are” We are beta testing a song for this on the owners forum. But I also have a cool game for it.

1. Put the kids in pairs.
2. One kid says something like “I am hungry”.
3. The other kid flips it to be “You are hungry”
4. The first kid says another “I am …” phrase.
5. The other kid makes it into a “You are …” phrase.
6. But… if the first kid says “I am a dinosaur” both kids have to run to the nearest wall.
7. The first one to touch the wall gets a point.
8. Change partners.

It’s very simple but the adrenaline from not knowing when you have to run means you really concentrate and get lots of speaking practice. You can also use slightly larger groups of 4 or 5 to do he, she, they we etc.

Here’s how the Cambodia teachers got on:

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

12 Responses to “Be verb: I am, You are Game”

  1. Carol

    Very very interesting idea! It really gets their attention.

    I am curious though as to the logistics for practicing he/she and keeping score. (I find there is always someone who figures out how to cheat….!!!)

  2. richard

    For he/she, 1 person says “I’m happy” etc. and the other two say “He’s happy” etc. i.e. groups of 3.

    It is one of those games for good classes, usually the score is just there as a bonus item, it’s the playing that’s fun!

  3. Rosebud

    I wanted to play this game today but we were so busy with all the new halloween worksheets we didn’t get round to it. It sounds like a great simple game. I should think that the fun element is more important than keeping score for the kids. I try to emphasise the fun of playing rather than the points with my groups on the whole as I’ve had bad experiences with young kids and fewer points. So we stick with the “losing just means try again” policy.

  4. Flossy

    Very nice game. It would not be possible in my classrooms though to run around, strictly forbidden! I think it would work well if a child came to the front with the teacher first and just said some very normal phrases and then the teacher says e.g. “I am Superman/woman”etc. I imagine the children would love that! I think they would want to all come out and have a turn at saying something amusing. I would set a rule that they have to say several facts using the I and you format and then end with something funny. Just an idea that I think would work in my classes.

    I do not think I would add any point element either as it causes me so many problems here too. No matter how I try to tell the children to just try again it is just something they cannot do!!

  5. Rosebud

    Flossy, if there is limited space or no-running rules how about putting a stack of cards between the kids so that when the dinosaur/superman part comes up the kids have to try to take the card on the table first. If the kids start off with their hands on their heads that would make it fairer. I like your idea of coming to the front and saying fact and fiction stuff too.

  6. Carol

    Thank you for the clarification for he/she! Great idea for “I am Superman” for ex. I have 6th graders for this and if I say the word “point” they get all pumped up, so I’ll just make it a game and not mention points. I’ll use cards like Rosebud suggested and see how it goes!!

  7. Luis

    This can also be done by turning the ‘I am..’ structures to questions. Great Idea!!!

  8. Aida Pereira

    I love this game, and I agree that having fun is more important than just the points.

  9. Andy

    I’m from México I’m starting to giving classes to children and I have to tell you you’re so creative and really amazing!!!!

  10. Angelia

    I am from Indonesia and thank you so much for the idea. Excellent. 4 thumbs up for you (:

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