By Kevin Fabris

June 10, 2015

10 - 15 Minutes, EFL, ESL, Fun, Game, Guessing Game, Materials Required, Memory, Small Class, Speaking, Use It, Young Learner

As a new teacher one of the hardest concepts to explain to my young learner ESL / EFL students was the difference between “there is” and “there are”.  I’ve tried many techniques over the past few years but I can hands down say that this idea submitted by Steve Sensei works the best.

The set up is fairly simple.  It works the best to start by writing the target language on the board.  “There is a shark” and “There are 3 sharks“.   Go through the language a few times with various examples before you start the game.

For this game you will need at least 10 toys some need doubles or triples as well a few blindfolds (closing your eyes works too).  Smaller toys are better because of limited space.

How to play:

  1. Put 10 toys on the table. Make a point of using the target language as your placing each item in front of the students.  E.g. “there are 3 sharks“, “there is an octopus“, etc.
  2. Count to 10.
  3. Ask the students to put on their blind folds or cover their eyes and tell you what was on the table.
  4. If a student can correctly identify the number of a specific toy while using the correct language give the toy/toys to to that student as points, e.g “there are 3 fish” = 3 fish toys awarded as points.   After the first round your ESL students will be hooked.
  5. Divide your class into teams.
  6. Have one team act as the teacher while the other team/teams attempt to remember what toys are on the table while alternating guesses.
  7. This game works best when the students that are trying to remember what they see only get a 10 second window to look at the objects on the desk before they start guessing.
  8. Limit the guessing time to one minute just so that the lesson continues at a good pace.
  9. Finally, tally the points awarded for correct answers, switch teachers and repeat.
  • To adjust this for a larger class you can use more toys

Do you have any other ways of teaching “there is” and “there are”?  Please let us know like Steve Sensei did and we’ll make sure to link to your materials.


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