In the Word Builder ESL activity, students build words from a large set of random letters.
Students do this activity in groups of two, three, or four. Or with small or private classes, all students could work together.
Prepare a large number of random letters on small pieces of paper, one copy for each team (try and make them reusable!). Make sure you have enough of the more common letters; a good way to do this is by using the distribution of letters found in a game of Scrabble. Alternatively, you have enough sets available, you could also use the Scrabble tiles themselves.
In class, the students sit in their groups at different tables.
- Give each group a set of random letters.
- The students organise these random letters into as many words as possible in a set time (usually five minutes). They can only use each paper/tile once.
- When the time is up, review the words the students have made, asking each group for one at a time. Write them on the board, and ask for a definition/check understanding.
- It often makes the activity more fun to turn it into a competitive game. Points are scored based on the length of the word, as described below. You could award points for accurate definitions too. The team with the most points when all the words have been read out wins.
Three or four-letter words: 1 point
Five-letter words: 2 points
Six-letter words: 3 points
Seven-letter words: 5 points
Eight (plus)-letter words: 11 points
Or, if you are using Scrabble tiles, you could use the point values of each letter added to calculate scores.
The Word Builder ESL activity is a quick and simple exercise that you can use as a warmer at any level, beginner, intermediate or advanced. For a similar word game/activity, try Boggle or Sentence Builder.
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