Teaching Diary: English Communication Scavenger Hunt

SH - Scavenger Hunt

Once more a hands on post about something I tried in class this term. The first time ever that somebody over here tried to pull an ‘interactive’ game off so it wasn’t that easy to get the people involved but in the end it worked out. Not perfectly, but still funny and with the desired outcome. So get ready for the first ever Udon Thani Vocational College English Communication Scavenger Hunt (EC|SH).

So here are a few steps explained. Maybe it’s some inspiration, maybe you simply see what traps are awaiting you when planning such a game or maybe it even scares you off. However I thought the experience is worth sharing.

Intention: Many colleagues asked me ‘why are you doing this? It’s to much work..’ – The simple answer: I think it would be fun and I want students to use their shyness when it comes to English communication. I want them to be able to use English in every day life and in all different kind of situations.

Initial Situation: I told all classes they have to form teams who participate in the game. Then I told them that the game will start on a fixed date at a fixed time and from then on it would all be up to the respective group how fast they’d solve the puzzles. However, to not scare them off in the beginning, I told them that the question will appear once daily. Meaning question number 1 will be appear on day 1 (and then stay visible), question 2 on day 2, etc…This was simply thought to show that the game wouldn’t take to much of their time and that they, if they play, only need to answer one question per day – while setting up this situation I was quite aware of the fact that Thai students are very often very lazy and sure that no group will solve every question as soon as it appears. So I was sure there will be a race as soon as more questions will be visible. And I was right.

Questions / Tasks: When a group would have completed one task/question they would have received a password which they could enter on our website and then they would see the upcoming question. And so on…

Start: I started the game with a post on our own facebook wall.

English Communication Scavenger Hunt - Start

English Communication Scavenger Hunt - Start

Like mentioned above, from then on the groups had their own pace. And this pace was, at first, quite slow. Since this was something completely knew they were a little stunned by the information overflow but got accustomed to it when motivated once again. When they finally started to realize that ‘playing’ the game really means ‘doing’ something, they had fun, organized groups and got it going on.

Question 1: Which song did we sing / analyze in English class? Name the song and use the fourth word as your first password. – Easy, to get them started using the website for gaming purposes.

English Communication Scavenger Hunt - Question 2

English Communication Scavenger Hunt - Question 2

Question 2: What’s the name of the second foreign language teacher here at the college? Go and ask for the next password. In English! – This was quite an easy one but the first question was thought to give everybody an easy start. So that was a no-brainer and the Chinese language teacher was happy to participate in this event (thanks again). Students had to talk English with her and take a picture together with her and then she gave them (like instructed by me) the next password.

Question 3 then was about ASEAN and to figure out a common Thai-English translation mistake. If you translate ‘Boyscout’ (a huge activity group in our college) word by word from Thai to English you will get the expression ‘baby tiger’ which is obviously wrong. So they had to find out how to translate ‘Baby Tiger’ into correct English, find the ‘boss of the baby tigers’ and talk with the boss about ASEAN while naming all participating countries. Luckily the head of our Boyscouts is an English teacher as well so she was happy to participate too and made sure that all the groups really had to talk English in order to receive the new password.

Question 4 was more of a task then a question. Since I wanted all students to be part of the game, not only the ones who speak English quite well, task 4 was: ‘Go planking! Yes, planking! I want 5 planking pictures from around the city – not in your dorm or classroom – upload the pictures on facebook and then receive the next password. – And well, what happened was….great & funny!

EC - English Communication

EC - English Communication


SH - Scavenger Hunt

SH - Scavenger Hunt


Planking, Yeah!

Planking, Yeah!

Question 5: Now back to talking English. In question 1 students had to get started using social media, then they had to talk English in question 2 & 3 and now in question 5 they had to combine it. Task was: ‘Find my friend >>NAME<< on facebook or google+ and have a video call with him. Interview him, show him your planking pictures and have a short small talk - he then will give you your last password. Of course it's great to have friends to help me out here. So thanks again to my friend in Austria who was the first to say 'yeah, great idea'. This task obviously needed students to be brave and talk to a complete stranger - but with this question they've already been close to finish the game...of course they had to document their actions again. Pictures and videos can be seen on our facebook page!

Last question / task: When students successfully talked to my friend he revealed the last password and they saw the final task – ‘Perform English in public’. Over the past weeks we learned and analyzed songs tongue twisters, speeches – now it was time to show some action and give a speech, perform tongue twisters or sing English in public. Why? To get rid of the last pieces of shyness and to put all aspects of the tasks before (speaking, social media, doing) together.

Final: The winner was the team of Hotel 3/2 – congratulations! Besides cheering and respect they also got a signed DVD of a TV star I met here in Thailand and ‘a lot of fun and nice memories’ (quote students).

Bottom line: It was a lot of work to set up and think through but it was worth it when seeing the outcome. It really made students to use English on a wider level than only in the classroom and even let them have fun while doing so. I would do it again – however not this term 😉

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