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In this edition of the newsletter, I want to give you some ideas for using BINGO in your classroom. If you haven't used BINGO for teaching yet, you will soon discover that students love it, and it is an easy way to review material and keep students engaged. I have been using it with my classes for years. The thing I like about BINGO is that it is so versatile and I can use it for teaching a variety of skills. If you have only ever thought of BINGO as a way to review vocabulary, hopefully these tips will help you see how you can use BINGO in a number of ways to review vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, reading, and even writing.

BINGO for Vocabulary

Most teachers think of games like BINGO for reviewing vocabulary because they are fun and students love playing them. But you can do a lot more than just put words you want your students to learn on the BINGO cards and call out the definitions. For starters, you might try putting the definitions on the cards and calling out the words. That requires the students to read and understand the definitions, which is more difficult than just hearing the definition. You might also try putting the words into sentences, and putting the sentences on the cards. Then you read out the sentences and the students have to fill in the missing word. Of course, with the BINGO Card Maker at eslactivities.com, you can put pictures on the cards, which is a great way to help lower level students learn words.

BINGO for Grammar

I love to use BINGO for reviewing grammar. Sometimes I will create a set of cards that have past tense irregular verbs on them, and then I will call out the present tense form of the verb and ask students to find the past tense form on their cards. I also use BINGO to study latin roots with my students. I'll put the definition of the root on the card and call out the root, or put the root on the card and call out the definition. Other times I'll call out a word that uses the root, and have the students find the root on their cards. There are lots of ways to use BINGO to review grammar.

BINGO for Listening

You might be thinking, "How can you use BINGO to practice listening?" but there are many ways. If you think about it, the playing of the game requires students to listen as you call out words or definitions or whatever your clues are. You can also take a lecture or something the students are supposed to listen to, and pull out important details or vocabulary words and play the game using those, which helps the students review the listening passage, or gain additional knowledge on that subject. I also use BINGO to help students practice their perception of spoken English by putting IPA symbols of certain sounds on the cards. Then I call out a word that uses that sound, and they have to mark it off. The trick is that I put similar sounding words in my list, usually parts of a minimal pair we have been working on. The more advanced my students, the more difficult I make the BINGO cards. You can find more about practicing speech perception at my other website, the Perception of Spoken English (POSE) Test.

BINGO for Speaking

Like listening, speaking is not the first thing teachers think of when they think of BINGO. However, if you think about how you play the game, there is quite a bit of speaking involved. You might ask students to call out the words instead of you, perhaps having students take turns, or having the student who won the previous game read the words for the next game. You could also ask a student who calls "BINGO!" to read out what they have selected, which is another way to get them speaking. If you want to practice pronunciation, you could use IPA symbols again, but this time say the sounds, and students have to find the word, and they have to repeat it as you say it so they practice speaking the word.

BINGO for Reading

Again, with a little imagination, it is easy to adapt a typical BINGO game to practice reading. You could pull out important details from a reading passage, or vocabulary words you want the students to learn, and play the game as a pre-reading activity. You might pull out characters from a story and put their names on the cards, while you call out details about them from the story. If you want to get your students reading while playing BINGO, divide several sentences into two chunks. Put one chunk on the cards, and read out the other chunk as the clue. Students will have to determine which chunk on their cards goes with the chunk that you read out.

BINGO for Writing

Using BINGO for writing has led to some of the funnest classes I have had. Of course, you can use BINGO to review important vocabulary and grammar to help prepare your students for writing. I have also used BINGO to help students learn the parts of a paragraph or an essay. I'll put several sentences from the same paragraph on a card, and I will call out numbers, referring to the order of the sentences in the paragraph. The students have to look at the sentences and figure out what order they go in, and then mark their cards accordingly. For essay practice, I'll put chunks of paragraphs on the cards, or maybe just the thesis and topic sentences and have the students put them in the right order.

As you can see, there are many different ways to use BINGO in your classroom. For more ideas, and to create your own BINGO cards, check out the BINGO Card Maker at eslactivities.com.

New Spelling Challenge Game Maker

I was finally able to update one of our older tools that allows teachers to create an online game to practice spelling, called the Spelling Challenge Game Maker. You can input your own words and text clues, or use pictures or even audio for clues. I have incorporated Text-To-Speech (TTS) capability, so if you are uncomfortable recording your own audio, you can use the TTS feature to generate audio files for the words you have input. It's not perfect, but it does work pretty well most of the time. Once you have put in all your words and clues, you can preview the game and download it to post on your own site, or give to your students to play. I am still working on a way for you to share just the URL with your students to allow them to play online, so look for that feature coming soon! Check it out at https://www.eslactivities.com/spelling.php.

Recommended Teacher Resource

Finally, I wanted to share with you a resource that I have found invaluable in my teaching career. It is called Great Writing: Great Paragraphs by Keith Folse. No one teaches writing, in my opinion, better than Keith Folse. He is well known for his expertise among ESL/EFL teachers. He also happens to be a great person and provides great examples of good student writing to go along with his simple explanations of the various components of a paragraph. There are well-designed student exercises that provide additional practice and help students really begin to understand how to write great paragraphs in English. With my higher-level students, I use another one of Keith's books, called Great Writing: Great Essays. Both books are available on Amazon and are great gifts for any ESL teachers you have in your friends or family.

That's all for this week! Happy teaching!

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