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My Grandmother Went to Market – vocabulary activity

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What’s in the trolley?

My Grandmother went to Market is a quick and simple traditional game which can be used in the TEFL classroom to practice various semantic fields. It is useful at the end of the class for a five minute filler to practice vocabulary learned earlier.

Once the class are familiar with it you can extend it and vary the gameplay to make it more complex and more engaging for the class.

Running the Game

For the first few times you play the game, start by suggesting a semantic field and inviting the class to give you items which are part of it. For example, if the semantic field were food then you could elicit from your class:

eggs, bananas, cereal, McDonalds*, cake, bread…

* although some might doubt this is food

Then write on the board the opening phrase:

My grandmother went to market and bought…

Explain to the class that you will say this and add an item of food to the end.

My grandmother went to market and bought some eggs.

The next person has to repeat what you said EXACTLY and then add their own item:

My grandmother went to market and bought some eggs and some butter.

The next person adds a new item:

My grandmother went to market and bought some eggs and some butter and some jam.

And so on until the next person can’t remember all those items before. Usually this happens after about five or six items. At this point you can prompt others in the class to help out and remember the missing item.

Note, to make sure all is fair, check that the desks are cleared (so no one writes down the items) and also call out students randomly.

Variations on a Theme

There are several variations you can introduce once the class is familiar with the game. It doesn’t have to be about your grandmother…

Make it Fun

Let your class use their imaginations!

A vacuous celebrity went shopping and bought a diamond handbag.

A vacuous celebrity went shopping and bought a diamond handbag and a pair of gold shoes.

A vacuous celebrity went shopping and bought a diamond handbag, a pair of gold shoes and a Rolls Royce…

Opening Phrases

Also it doesn’t have to be all about concrete items. Instead you can begin with a different opening phrase:

My best friend went on holiday and visited… Spain, then New York, then my aunt, then summer camp…

I wish I could… fly, and walk through walls, and be invisible, and live forever…

And so on. Make sure, of course, that what you choose is relevant to the class and their interests and level.

Specific Phrase Practice

Then, if there’s a specific phrase you’d like your class to practice you can include that.

Suppose your class keep on saying by foot instead of on foot. Quite simply make this the phrase:

I walked on foot to… the doctors, then the bank, then my friend’s house, then school…

Useful Links

Semantic Fields – what they are and their importance in TEFL

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