Can someone truly find love on a game show?
“The Bachelor” aside, love is possible, even on a show like “Jeopardy.” Just ask Maryanne Lewell and Michael Townes who met as contestants and went on to find their happily ever after in marriage in 2017.
Of course, it’s probably not the game itself that made them fall in love with each other.
But you can count on one thing: your students falling in love with a classroom version of ESL “Jeopardy,” and it’ll probably be love at first sight.
Why Should You Play “Jeopardy” in Your Classroom?
Most of us are familiar with this quiz program and its iconic theme song. In case you’re not, all you need to know is that it’s a simple game show that puts a twist on traditional trivia by giving players the answers and asking them to come up with the questions. Here are some reasons you should incorporate this game in your classroom:
- “Jeopardy” is broadcast all over the world in several different languages, and your ESL students have either seen or heard of it. The familiarity of the show means you’ll spend less time on explanations and more time on content. Also, it keeps the anxiety at bay that other classroom games might stir up.
- You can customize the questions to whatever you’re studying in class. That means whether you’re teaching beginners or advanced, this is a game that works.
- “Jeopardy” is great for reviewing information your students should already have learned. You can use it to review grammar, vocabulary or even culture. And you can even cover all those topics in the same game. You can use it to review before a test or as an end-of-the-year recap on your school year.
- It’s also a fun way to practice question formation since players have to come up with the questions. But even if you choose to modify the traditional format of giving answers and requiring questions (and there’s no loss of value if you do) it’s still a fun and engaging activity for ESL students.
- “Jeopardy” is quick and fun, and a little competition can liven up any classroom! Your students are sure to enjoy the game and not even realize the amount of information they’re retaining in the process.
In short, “Jeopardy “is a game that works for just about any class and it’s one students will love.
5 Easy Steps to Create an ESL Jeopardy Game That Works for Your Classroom
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1. Choose the Information You Want to Review
Now that you know you’re ready to “host” this lively trivia show-down, you’ll have to figure out the questions and categories you want to review with your students.
Traditionally, a game of “Jeopardy” has 10 categories and 10 questions in each category from easy to difficult.
For a classroom version, you don’t have to have the full one hundred questions. Most often, you’ll want your game to take less time than a televised game, so five categories with five questions each are probably plenty.
Choose your categories based on what you’ve studied with your students. Then come up with five questions for each category. Give the questions dollar values in $100 increments from $100 to $500, awarding $100 for the easiest question and $500 for the most difficult.
Once you’ve decided on the material you want to cover and the categories you want to include, you’ll need to come up with questions. Keep reading to find some examples that might just be perfect for you!
2. Create or Find the Questions
Here are several possible categories and questions that might work with your students. They’re formed as answers, but you could easily reword them as questions if you choose.
Vocabulary: Name the sport for each answer
$100: In this sport, players attempt to get a ball through a hoop on a high pole. (What is basketball?)
$300: This sport is nicknamed America’s pastime. (What is baseball?)
$500: This sport uses the term “love” while keeping score. (What is tennis?)
Past present or future: Are the following verbs in past, present or future tenses?
$100: I went to a baseball game. (What is past?)
$300: I am attending a baseball game (What is present?)
$500: I will attend a baseball game. (What is future?)
Missing words: Give the correct preposition for each sentence
$100: I need to go ___ the store. (What is to?)
$300: You should go ___ your notes to find the answer. (What is through?)
$500: Don’t be disagreeable. Just go ___ with the plan. (What is along?)
Synonyms: Give a synonym for each word
$100: Dash (What is run?)
$300: Examine (What is look?)
$500: Ruminate (What is think?)
Count and non-count nouns: Choose the correct word to complete each sentence
$100: Would you like less/fewer milk in your coffee? (What is less?)
$300: We have less/fewer homework this session than last. (What is less?)
$500: Less/fewer than 20 students are here today. (What is fewer?)
Online resources for questions
It’s not hard to make up your own questions for your classroom game, but there may be times when you just don’t have the prep time needed. In that case, you can find questions online that have already been created.
For example, the ISL Collective also has several sets of “Jeopardy” questions ready to print and go on topics such as verb tenses, adverbs and phrasal verbs.
And if you’d like to include more questions on verb tenses, you’ll find some inspiration here.
3. Set Up the Game
Depending on the size of your classroom and personalities of your students, there might be a particular format that works best for you. Here are two different ways to play that both work well in the ESL classroom.
Version 1: Class plays as two teams
Make a grid on the board with categories and dollar amounts.
Have a question ready for each square. You might want to have a grid on your paper and the questions written in their coordinating places to make things less confusing for yourself.
When a student chooses a particular square on the grid, you’ll read the coordinating question.
Version 2: Individual students compete in groups of two or three
Print out each of your questions.
Put each question in its own envelope, and label the envelope with the category and dollar amount on the outside. Each group will have their own set of envelopes.
Each group sets out their envelopes on a desk in a grid according to category and dollar amount.
4. Get Ready to Play!
How you play varies a little bit depending on the version you choose, though the basic premise is the same. Here are directions for playing as an entire class as well as in smaller groups.
- Divide the class into two or three teams. Assign a color or symbol to each team.
- One team chooses a category and dollar amount.
- The teacher reads the question aloud to the class.
- The team answers the question. If they’re correct, mark that square with the team’s name/color/symbol. If they answer incorrectly, leave the space as is.
- The next team to go gets to choose a square, either the same one or another one.
- The game ends when there are no questions remaining.
- Add up the scores on the board to see which team won.
- Students take turns choosing an envelope, reading the question to the other players and answering it.
- If their answer is correct, they keep the card.
- If their answer is incorrect, they put the question back in the grid face up for another person to answer. That person cannot answer that question again.
- If a group of players can’t agree if a question is answered correctly or not, have them check with you.
- If everyone answers a question incorrectly, it’s removed from the board.
- At the end of the game, add up dollar amounts for each player to see who wins.
5. Allow Students to Play on Their Own
Although the game is finished, it doesn’t mean that the information students retain from the game needs to go by the wayside. Now that students know what to do, keep these questions and envelopes and let students play in groups whenever there’s free time.
Another idea is to set a game up at a learning center or send students a link to this page of “Jeopardy” games for more practice. These short games are good as fillers for students who finish tests and other activities early.
They can also try this interactive online game which quizzes irregular past tenses. Students can choose avatars and answer multiple choice questions on the “Jeopardy” board.
It’s not easy to get on TV to play “Jeopardy,” but it’s easy to bring the game into your ESL classroom.
When you introduce this quiz show to your ESL students, no matter what version you use, they’re sure to fall in love. With the game, that is.
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