Updated 7 May 2016
Seeing some of my old worksheets as I polish up the index pages, I’ve noticed a general trend in the last five years. Most of the old communication games etc could be described as “a bit complicated but (usually) worth the effort” whereas a lot of my present favourites are more “surprisingly worthwhile and stimulating considering how straightforward they are”. This game is the ultimate version of the latter.
The Same or Different?
Students are given pairs of words, phrases or sentences (e.g. “sidewalk/ pavement” or “on the other hand/ in contrast”) and have to work out if (just) the meanings are the same or different. If you give them three or four together (e.g. “opposite/ in front of/ across”), they are either all the same or all different. I find this activity to be generally much better than error correction for important points like false friends and common confusions, and you can use the pairs which are the same to give them a bit more variety in their language or higher level forms.
After they try (often meaning guess) in pairs, you could let them use their dictionaries, e.g. to check a maximum of five items. This is good as it helps them learn how to work out subtle differences between definitions in monolingual dictionaries (plus use example sentences etc to aid with that), and to show the weaknesses of many bilingual dictionaries (e.g. when things that are different are translated the same way).
This is surprisingly absorbing on its own, but you can also turn it into a game. Before seeing the worksheet, students listen and hold up “The same” or “Different” cards that you have given them depending on what they think about the meanings of the pairs (or more) of words, phrases or sentences that they hear. These cards can also be used again later when they test each other in other in groups after doing the worksheet and checking their answers. A couple of the worksheets below have this (optional) part included, and the cards to hold up can be used for any of the others.
The Same or Different? game photocopiable classroom activities
Sentence transformations The same or different (including typical confusions when transforming sentences, with simplest responses warmer game) – NEW
IELTS Speaking Part One The same or different (with questions, vocabulary and functional language)
The language of trends The same or different (common confusions and useful synonyms)
Academic Word List vocabulary The same or different (page 4 of the worksheets)
Future forms The same or different? (just the first half of it)
Giving examples The same or different? (Just the last exercise)
Expressing cause and effect The same or different (Just the last exercise on the first page)
Expressing purpose The same or different (Just exercise C)
For more TEFLtastic Classics, click on the link of that name below.