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The Hamburger Game

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Here's a game that sounds deceptively easy on the surface, but is actually pretty challenging, and appropriate for levels beginner to advanced (though the lower levels seem to get a bigger kick out of it).

Firstly, you're going to need some blown-up, xeroxed copies of common food items. The ones in my collection include: a hamburger (which is my example, and lends its name to this game), a hotdog, a slice of pizza, a ham sandwhich, a taco, and an ice cream cone (you can limit or add to the number of pictures to be used as you feel appropriate. Five pictures, including the example, can take 20-30 minutes).

In any event, begin by having your students imagine that you are from a small place in a foreign country, far from "Western" influences. Have your students imagine your shock when one day you see (and produce the picture) a hamburger.

"Oh my GOD!" you exclaim. "What is THIS?"
"It's a hamburger," your students naturally react.
"But remember," you say, "in my small village, I have never seen a hamburger. Can you tell me, what is a hamburger?"

Now comes the part when the students begin to see the level of intricacy involved in this game. Eliciting from the students, you can get a final answer for the eternal question "What is a hamburger?" that goes something like this:
"A hamburger is tomatoes, cheese, pickles, onions (etc) and *ground beef* *between* two *slices* of bread" (as indeed the hamburger in my picture is).

With this example, the students now work in pairs (or in threes, if the number of students allows), to come up with equally precise definitions to the remaining food items, which I tack with magnets onto the white board.
This "Hamburger game" doubles as an introduction to food items students may not have previously known in English (surrounded by stars above), and also reviews the use of prepositions. It is great fun to see the looks on students' faces as you describes the differences/ uses of on, at, in, and between (eg *toppings* "on" a pizza vs "in" a taco shell)! Other useful vocabulary comes in when explaining pizza *crust*, and
even though your students may not know that a taco shell is called a "tortilla," working together you can elicit a description like "a round, thin *sheet* of corn" ("like in 'a sheet of paper,'" you can tell them).

I've rambled enough, I think, for you to get the general idea that this seemingly very simple game actually reinforces/ introduces some useful vocabulary and preposition usage, and is also a lot of fun to see your students try their hardest to get you, the teacher from a "small village" to understand their descriptions!

Javier Lopez
Kobe, Japan

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