I’ve never been a massive fan of grammar auctions – mostly because I was never quite sure how they were supposed to work. Generally they involve a list of sentences, most of which have mistakes in them, which the learners are supposed to correct and then bid on. It was always the money aspect that confused me! This summer, however, I have decided how they work (for me) and then applied them successfully to pronunciation and vocabulary…
to focus on the pronunciation (especially word stress) of a set of target vocabulary with whose meaning learners are already familiar.
Each team of learners need a list of the words to be used for the game.
None – learners should have the words already, as they are previously studied words. Or if you really want, make another special list of them to hand out!
- Put learners into teams of 4-6 players and make sure each team has a list of the target words for the game. (Our list happened to have 24 words on it, academic vocabulary which we had looked at previously in the context of a reading text, which worked fine.) NB: The list should be numbered for easy identification purposes. (Actually ours wasn’t but before we started I told them how it would be numbered – there were 4 columns each with six words, so it was 1-6 down column one, 7-12 down column two etc.)
- Tell learners they have £1000 to spend on the words. How much they spend on each word depends on how sure they are of the pronunciation. (We focused on word stress as we hadn’t introduced the phonemic chart yet – but I can already imagine some variations involving it! Watch this space!)
- Give learners 5-10 minutes (depending how many target words you have) to decide what the correct pronunciation of each word is and how sure they are of it, and to allocate their £1000.
- When everybody is ready, call out the number of a word. E.g. number 10. Each team reveals how much they bid on word 10. The highest bid gets to pronounce the word. If correct, they gain the amount of money they allocated. So if they bid £200, they get £200 in their score board. They can earn bonus cash by then providing the other words in a word family, also pronounced correctly. E.g. if the target word is ‘advertise’, they can gain bonus cash for ‘advertisement’ and ‘advertising’. (This encourages them to think about how, in many cases, when you change word type, the stress changes too.) We decided that providing correct pronunciation for all members of the word family merited doubling one’s money.
- If the highest bidder gets the pronunciation wrong, the word passes to the next highest bidder. If the next highest bidder gets it correct, they win the highest bidder’s bid total. So if, in the above example, the team who bid £200 got it wrong, and the next highest bid was £150, if that second team got it correct, they would win £200.
- Once all the words have been pronounced (if any haven’t been bid on by any of the groups, sell them off at £50 a pop to get learners to have a go even if they aren’t sure!), the winner is the group with the highest total of money.
To review the meanings of previously studied target lexis.
- Give learners, in teams, a set length of time to write a list of a given set of target words that they have been studying (in our case it was a set of phrasal verbs). At the end of the set time, do a quick whole class check to make sure all teams have all the target words. (If one team has them all, and the others don’t, you could award some bonus points!) OR provide/point them at a list of the words.
- Give teams time to discuss the meanings of the target words, decide how sure they are of the meaning and allocate their £1000 (as with the pronunciation auction)
- The procedure follows as per the pronunciation auction except that learners provide meanings rather than pronunciation. Learners can earn bonus cash by putting the target word in a sentence correctly. (You could up the challenge by requiring the meaning and a suitable collocation, with bonus cash for extra collocations…)