The Internet TESL Journal

Playing with Questions-A Game for Young Learners

Rania Bekiri
raniabek [at]


Teaching a foreign language can be most enjoyable and relaxing. Yet, most learners feel that an appropriate lesson consists of traditional tasks with lots of writing and reading, listening to the teacher and speaking with the fellow partners in class during activities. When a lesson consists of a game, then it is not a lesson in the eyes of the young learners and, therefore, it is greatly appreciated. Still, it is such a lesson that gives the teacher the opportunity to help the learners acquire new forms and lexis in the easiest and most effective way. It does not have to be a complicated game with a board, cards and dice. What is simple is usually more effective with the young learners who find it difficult to understand a long list of rules. Very often a teacher finds activities in course books that can easily be turned into a game. This game was based on a similar table in the course book for Primary School, used as a drilling activity. By turning it into a game, it becomes far more exciting and challenging.


Firstly, this lesson aims at teaching young post-elementary learners the right form of questions. The most frequent error is 'Did he played tennis?' and 'Did she swam fast?' or 'Does she plays tennis?' This game aims at teaching them that in the interrogative form of present simple and past simple they should use the infinitive form of the verb.
The teacher may use the same table form for other tenses, such as the 'be going to' form or present continuous (with a present or future meaning) and adapt the boxes depending on the requirements of each tense. The aim remains the same, i.e., the right way of using the interrogative form.
Secondly, many learners have a problem with the word order. This could be a transfer error from their mother tongue. For example, the sentence 'Paul read a book in his bedroom last week' has a certain word order in English whereas in my learners' mother tongue (Greek), the same sentence can be said in many different ways just by arranging the word order differently. Therefore, when it comes to English, they also say the words in random order as well. In the particular lesson they are taught that they must first state the subject, then the verb stating the action, then the place the action occurred and finally the time of the action.

Timetable Fit

This game can be included in the syllabus after the tense has been introduced. It can be used for practice and consolidation.
The lesson takes about 50 minutes to conclude.


Group A    Janet wrote a letter in the garden last week.
Group B    Mary found a toy at school this morning.
Group C    Susan made a model plane in the park last Sunday.
Group D    Victor drank some milk near the lake two weeks ago.

The goal of each group is to find their full sentence first, moving step by step across the boxes.



There can be variations of the game depending on the teacher's objectives. Here there are games for the following tenses:
A teacher can, however, improvise a similar handout for any other tense.


Young learners love to play and participate in a game with more enthusiasm and willingness than in any other classroom task. The competitive element of this game enhances their willingness to participate in order to achieve their goal and it does not matter if they make a mistake or lose because, after all, it is only a game and not a test. On the other hand, the cooperation that exists within the groups makes the game stress-free encouraging even the weaker learners to take active part in it knowing that the better learners are there to help them when necessary. Therefore, the atmosphere is very positive, anxiety-free and relaxing! Yet, experience has taught me that attention has been paid on accuracy of form and learners remember the right way of asking a question.

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. IX, No. 8, August 2003