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Balderdash variation

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a.k.a. "The Dictionary Game"

I've used this a couple times and find it a fun way to teach idioms or slang to advanced learners. This vocabulary/writing/listening game is probably best for intermediate to advanced learners since it requires the students to create their own definitions for unknown vocabulary. Depending on the personalities in your class, it can range from very competitive to completely comical. Also best for small classes-- I'd imagine max 8 students, otherwise you'll drag through the day reading definitions! Having said that, this could be played in small groups with appointed secretaries to write.

The teacher hands out slips of paper or 3X5 cards with a word/expression written, (perhaps phonemic spelling, too) and the part of speech ("grouchy" -- adjective). The word should be one that the students will not know, and every student gets the same word. Individually, students write a definition for that word on their slip of paper (it can be tame or completely outrageous) and pass it back to the teacher. Teacher silently reads through definitions to check for glaring grammar mistakes and to make sure it's legible. Then once all the definitions have been completed, the teacher reads each definition aloud for the students. Included somewhere in the pile of definitions is the *real* definition which the teacher has written. After listening to all the definitions, students must vote for the definition they believe is the correct one.

Students score one point for:
a) choosing the correct definition,
b) each vote which their own definition receives,
c) writing a correct definition for the word

After the votes have been tallied and the true definition revealed, I reinforce the correct definition with some examples in context.

Use this game as a change of pace between activities (i.e. handing out just one word to the class each day, keeping a scorecard throughout the week or month) or make a meal of it and do several words in one class period. Most of all, have fun!

Karen Regan
Olney, Buckinghamshire

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