The Weakest Link

I’ve recently experimented with a new game-type activity to review material/practice patterns. I just took the premise of “The Weakest Link” (game show) and applied it to the ESL classroom.

Essentially, I set all the kids in the circle and have them pass an eraser around the circle and ask them questions in turn. The catch is, that every answer they get correct doubles the point value. In my case, the number of stamps awarded to the entire class.

If they get a chain of 8 questions correct they can get 128 stamps (or 256 if I start with 2 rather than 1). So in a class of 8, the kids would get 16 stamps each if they max it out. BUT if they get one wrong, they go back to 0.

They are also allowed to say “bank” after a person answers correctly and before that person passes the eraser. Only the person who just answered the question may say “bank”. If they say “bank” the number of points they have earned in their chain is added to their bank-- which they don’t lose if someone gets a question wrong. However, their chain is then reset to zero and they have to start over. So, they can get many more points much faster if they don’t bank, but risk losing what they worked for if someone gets something wrong.

Typically, kids start out missing most of the questions. But you don’t give them a different question each time. You start with 4 or 5 questions and repeat them, so that after a little bit the kids start getting several in a row right. Once that happens, introduce a new question or two.

This game just takes a couple minutes to explain, and once the game starts students tend to focus on memorizing the answers and forms they need very intently.

Thanks for that. Sounds good.

There’s a pretty interesting version of The Weakest Link at the Humanising Language Teaching website:

I have a slightly different version, called FLUSH THE TOILET.

Before class, I put pictures of toilets on the door and the walls of the classroom. When class began, I went over some vocabulary related to bathrooms and toilets, then introduced the game.

I had students turn in their coursebooks and put them on my desk. I asked review questions, including some impossible questions (ex. What is the man on page 21 holding in his right hand? Which publishing house published our coursebook?)

It’s played just like the version in the magazine article, but when a team is voted out, I would turn on a sound effects CD that had the sound of a toilet flushing and the other teams would call out “I’m gonna flush you down the toilet!” When it was down to 2 teams, I had all the other teams to cast their votes for the winning team.

Great fun!