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Making Groups in the ESL classroom

This week one of my coworkers shared a great grouping activity with me. I love this activity because dividing students up into groups can be so complicated. But sometimes all you need is a nice random grouping of students for an activity.

  • Begin by selecting a subskill or theme, like simple past or pronunciation.
  • Decide the size of the group, for example, groups of 3-4.
  • Make words or sentences that deal with the theme. Words or sentence should clearly sort into groups.
  • In class, tell students the theme and the size of group.
  • Have students walk around and share their words or sentences.
  • Students try to find a similarity in order to form the correct sized group.

Here is a specific example: This week, we were working on simple past. I wanted to make groups of three. I started by writing 3 sentences with one simple past grammar mistake in each. Then, I wrote 3 more sentences with 2 mistakes in each. And so on until I had enough for my class. During class, I gave each student a sentence. I had them read their sentences to themselves first and told them that they would be divided into groups of three. I told them to find the similarity in the sentences. I gave them a hint that the similarity had to do with simple past grammar. I gave students time to walk around and share their sentences. I gave them hints if they need it. At the end of the activity, they had found people with the same number of mistakes in their sentences. They were in perfect groups of three and they had already practiced simple past.

Here is another example for vocabulary: To divide your class into four groups, you could give each student a word (a noun, adjective, verb and adverb) and have students try to figure out what factor would divide the class into four groups. Give them hints and they should be able to realize that the form of the word is the important feature.

No matter what you choose to do, this activity is great for a number of reasons. Firstly, it easily divides students into groups. The groups can be random (if you hand-out the words/sentences randomly or the teacher can select the groups by assigning each student a specific word/sentence. Secondly, it is a good activity to prepare students for any type of group work. It gets them thinking and working with others. I loved this idea! It is so great to have nice colleagues to share ideas with. If any of you have classroom ideas, blog about them and give me a link. I would love to hear your classroom ideas too.

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3 Responses to “Making Groups in the ESL classroom”

  1. ESL/EFL links of the day : Daily EFL Says:

    […] Making groups in the ESL classroom [link] […]

  2. yasi Says:

    Decide the size of the group, for example, groups of 3-4.

  3. Blog » Blog Archive » ESL Lessons with Note cards | English, Baby! Says:

    […] cards to improve my ESL lessons. I have already talked about using slips of paper or note cards for grouping activities. But here are more […]

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