If you need a quick getting to know you (GTKY) activity or lead in, you could do worse than reverse questions. In this game, the answers to a number of questions are put on the board. Students then work out what the questions are.
This is a very flexible game which can be played online and can be even be used to emphasise a particular grammar point or to review what was done in the previous lesson.
PRE: Think up some questions and note down the answers. Write these on the whiteboard before the lesson starts. Depending on how hard the questions are, you may work with as many as 12 answers. Questions should be graded to the expect level of the student.
1: Explain to the students that these are the answers to questions but you want to know what questions they answer. Choose a student to pick an answer and guess what the question is.
2: If the student was incorrect, nominate another student to attempt to guess. It is up to you how strict you are about the grammar being correct. This may depend on the complexity of the question, the ability of the student and whether you would therefore expect the student to produce that question accurately.
3: When students guess correctly, you may wish to add the correctly formed question to the board. After this activity has finished, you can use the questions to have students ask and answer with each other.
4: As you get to the remaining answers you may want to give students hints that help them to guess.
On whiteboard: James / 37 / Manchester United / London / 2016
S1: James is “What’s your name?”
S2: 2016 is maybe “When did you start teaching English?”
Online: You can play this online by simply showing a Word or GoogleDocs document with your answers.
1: Play as a team game by dividing the class into two or more teams and letting each team guess one answer at a time. You may need to give the teams some time to think about all of the questions first before playing the guessing round.
2: Focus students attention by setting a time limit or counting wrong guesses. You could draw a picture like in hangman, adding a line each time there is a wrong guess.
3: You could do a similar activity for practising lexis that has just been introduced by putting the lexis on the board and having students think of a question where the answer is each lexical item.
After doing the activity as a whole class, students can do the same exercise in smaller groups or pairs to introduce themselves or to test each other about a text or topic.
Alternatively, if you wrote the questions on the whiteboard as students guessed them, they can simply ask and answer the questions.
If students like this activity, you could use this a regular routine for testing homework (write the answers to several questions from the homework and have students tell you which question they answer). After a while, you can even delegate this activity to a different student to run at the beginning of each lesson.
Example Questions (write the answers):
What’s your name?
Where are you from?
How old are you?
What’s your job?
When did you come to …?
What’s your favourite football team/colour/food/book/movie/etc?
How many brothers/sisters/siblings/cousins have you got?
How much money is in your pocket?