This activity combines paraphrasing skills with a children’s memory game and can help students practise Sentence Transformation exercises the likes of which appear in the Cambridge exams. It takes a bit of preparation but it’s worth it (and you can reuse it). It appears in my resources thanks to Louisa Cristo who shared it at a teacher’s meeting last year.
You can use any Sentence Transformation exercise. Prepare cards of one colour with original phrases from the exercise on them, and write the paraphrased versions on cards a different colour. For example:
- Original sentence: This time I didn’t manage to win first prize. Green card: manage to do
- Transformed sentence: I didn’t succeed in winning first prize. Blue card: succeed in doing
- Original sentence: In spite of the heavy snow, we managed to get home quickly. Green card: in spite of + NOUN
- Transformed sentence: We managed to get home quickly, even though it was snowing heavily. Blue card: even though + SUBJECT + VERB
In class, you can play Pelmanism, or the memory game. Arrange all the cards face down on the floor. The students take it in turn to turn over one card of each colour and read aloud what they see. If both the phrases mean the same, they keep the pair of cards. The winner is the one with the most pairs.
Now pair up the students and give out the Sentence Transformation exercise. They can use their card pairs to help them complete the answers. After a couple of minutes, ask the students to pass round their cards to the next pair. The students can use the cards to check their answers. When you reveal or ask for the answers at the end, the students should be fairly confident that they’ve got them all right.
I’ve done this activity with teens and adults and both groups have enjoyed the game and the opportunity to make the connections. Because some of the phrases come up many times whilst someone is searching for a matching phrase, there’s a good chance the students will remember them. Also, when they complete the sentence transformations at the end of the activity, they often do very well and this hopefully gives them more confidence about this part of the exam.
An alternate method (which I haven’t tried, but thinking about it, seems like a good idea) is to give the students the exercise to try for a few minutes in pairs before playing Pelmanism. This would prime them, make the phrases on the cards relevant and make finding the answer even more satisfying.