The ‘pen game’ is a TPR activity intending to allow students to develop fluency in the use of possessive adjectives, subject pronouns and object pronouns. The secondary aim is to facilitate the recognition of transitive verbs and two object verbs, and sequence words such as ‘and then’.
This is a video of a beginners’ class who have just been introduced to object pronouns. They’re a young group (14 – 17 years old) who are generally quite relaxed (although a little quiet) in class together. They’ve just done one iteration with the teacher as ‘ring master’, and the video shows Naam as ring master for the first time. Each student takes a turn at being ring master. This facilitates learner independence.
The sequence was drawn on the board and word-filled before the start of the activity.
If you look at the video again you will see that fluency improves even within one cycle. You can see the learners gain greater confidence with the language as they progress. I often use this as a warmer in further classes. I use it until I can see that they’re getting bored with it.
I find the game works well with younger learners, but older learners may be more apprehensive about speaking in circles. If students have been saying ‘he give it she’ for many years they will find it very hard to break this habit. This is a powerful tool, but also a dangerous tool. Some students may not want to speak ‘proper English’. They may experience resistance to taking commands, or they may find it physically painful to break incorrect grammatical patterns; they literally hold their heads and say: ‘it hurts, it hurts’. We are literally tearing apart neural pathways in order for them to be relined.
Take it easy, and you may find the activity very effective.