Scavenger Hunts for Language Learners

I’m not sure where others draw inspiration from when it comes to designing instructional activities, but for me the sources are quite diverse. Almost anything I observe in real life seems like a language learning opportunity, so it’s simply a matter of repackaging it for students. Take for example the idea of a scavenger hunt. While planning party games for my son’s upcoming birthday celebration, I couldn’t avoid the occupational hazard of taking a mental detour and considering ways to modify this activity for language learners.

  • HUNT FOR VOCABULARY

Have students search for people or objects around the room according to a list of instructions. Each instruction targets a key word or phrase.

Example 1: Find someone who has visited the northern region of this country.

Example 2: Find someone who believes in fate.

Example 3: Find something in the room that needs to be mended.

Example 4: Look in the trash (but don’t touch!) and write two things people recently got rid of.

Note: region, fast, mend, and get rid of all appear in Chapter 21 of Vocabulary Power 2.

  • HUNT FOR GRAMMAR

Have students search for people or objects around the room according to a list of instructions. Each instruction targets a specific grammar point.

Example 1:  (a) Find count nouns. (b) Find non-count nouns.

Example 2: Find nouns that can be used after the quantifiers (a) many, (b) a great deal of, (c) a couple of, etc.

Example 3: (a) Find a pair of shoes which have no buckles. Who’s wearing them? (b) Find a pair of jeans that have pockets in the front and back. Who’s wearing them? (c) Find someone whose last name has three syllables. What’s this person’s last name?

  • HUNT FOR SOUNDS (PRONUNCIATION)

Have student search for objects around the room that have target sounds. Have they just finished learning about plural noun endings? Ask them make three lists: plural nouns that end in /s/, /z/ and /ɪz/. They can only write down the noun if they find more than one of that object in the classroom. Examples: desks, pens, watches.

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