Written by Stuart Allen

Many of you reading this right now will be an English teacher living and working here in Xi’an. If you are one of the thousands of English teachers here in Xi’an, then I hope you’ll find these two activities useful for your classes. They are both easy to organize and need no special planning; perfect for busy teachers!
The Dinner Party
Tell your class that this weekend you are having a dinner party. There will be good food, good music and good company.
Explain to your students that you have invited five very, very, very special guests to the party and ask your students to guess who they might be. Get some answers from them about who they think your guests are and write their ideas on the board.
After you have got a few ideas, reveal your list of five special guests to your students. Here are my five, you can choose any you like:
1. Helen Keller
2. Elvis Presley
3. Nostradamus
4. Neil Armstrong
5. Keith Lemon
Make sure that your five are well known and have some no longer living. Tell your students why you have chosen your 5.
Now tell your students to make their own list of five people for their own dinner party. They can be alive or dead, but can’t include their own friends or family, who will be coming anyway.
After they have made their list, have each student tell everyone who was on their list and why they were chosen.
This is a quick, easy and fun speaking activity which requires no special preparation.
Sentence Betting
‘Sentence Betting’ is a fun ESL classroom activity that students are sure to enjoy. The basic premise of the game involves students reading sentences written in English on the whiteboard/blackboard and betting fake money on whether they think it’s a correct sentence or not.
Split your class into teams of around 3 or 4 students and hand out an even amount of fake money to each team, monopoly money works well, or you can print some off from the internet. You can keep track of their totals on the whiteboard/blackboard without needing fake money but it makes the activity a lot more fun if they have something physical to hold and work with.
Give each team a piece of paper and write the first sentence on the whiteboard/blackboard. Here are a few examples (remembering to omit the correct/incorrect part):
Correct: I want to buy a new computer.
Incorrect: Yesterday I will go to the library.
Correct: I love playing basketball after school.
Incorrect: You’re photo is beautiful.
Give them around a minute to discuss the sentence in their groups before asking them to make their bets on the piece of paper you gave them. Let the students know that if they’re unsure about a sentence then they should probably bet less money.
It’s also a good idea to make the maximum bet half of what they currently have so they can’t lose all their money. For example, if you gave each team $10000 then the maximum bet would be $5000.
Collect the pieces of paper and then write on the board how much each group has betted and whether they think the sentence you have written on the board is incorrect or has no problems with spelling, punctuation or grammar. Hand out the winnings/collect the losses equal to how much they bet.
Play as many rounds as you like, get each team to count their winnings at the end and see which team finishes with the most money.
You might like to keep track of this on the whiteboard/blackboard as the game progresses so all teams know how much money they have.
By Stuart Allen
If you are an English teacher in Xi’an, why not join the ESL in China group on WeChat? You can join by scanning the code.