The Minimalist ALT
was inspired by a group of Japanese elementary school teachers I was training who told me they wanted to learn activities that require 'no preparation, no materials, and are time-flexible.' Don't we all!!
The result not only changed my own teaching style, it made my life at school a LOT easier! But more importantly, the students enjoy the classes and use English in real and meaningful ways.
Scroll down to learn how to teach... with less.

March 3, 2009


Full Class Testing or Listen-and-Respond Activity
prepared sentences or questions, or make them up as you go
time: 3-10 minutes

CROSSFIRE or LINEFIRE are testing activities that need to be used judiciously. As a game, they can be quite fun for the students (especially those sitting and watching). Students intuitively understand the testing nature of the activities, however; many students just don’t like to be one of a few students standing while all the others are sitting and watching. For the teacher, though, it is very convenient for checking students' oral production accuracy: for example, after introducing or practicing some words, structures or gestures, and before moving into an activity that doesn’t allow for direct teacher error surveillance. We often play CROSSFIRE or LINEFIRE before moving onto more free-speaking activities (or the ConFluency Card Game).


CROSSFIRE: With the classroom set up with the desks in rows, choose one row -either front-to-back or side-to-side- to stand. After the teacher says a sentence or asks a question, the student with the first hand up can respond. If the response is correct, this student may sit down (if incorrect, the student remains standing, and the next fastest student may respond). This pattern continues until there is one original student standing. At this time, the line of students ninety-degrees opposed to the original line and containing the last standing student, stand and become the responders.

Continue play until the students sufficiently understand the correct patterns for responding to be able to continue to the next activity. After playing several rounds, you can ask the students who haven't stood up yet to stand for the final round.

LINEFIRE: Choose one row to stand (I usually roll a single die/dice to choose one row, counting from left to right). This row stands, and in order (front-to-back or back -to-front) each student in turns responds. If the response is correct, the student sits down; if not, the student remains standing, and the chance to respond moves to the next. When all students have resonded correctly and sat down, the student who answered incorrectly is given another chance.

CROSSFIRE/LINEFIRE PATTERNS for practicing a variety of Conversation Skill patterns:

  • (Teacher -> Student)
  • Question -> Answer
  • Question -> A + 1 Answer
  • Question -> Answer (+1) & Repeat the Same Question
  • Question -> Answer (+1) & Ask Another Question
  • (Teacher 1) Question -> (Teacher 2) Answer (+1) -> (Student) Follow-Up Question
  • Question -> Answer (+1) -> (Teacher) Pardon? -> (Student) Repeat
  • Sentence -> Say the Same Sentence (Listen -> Repeat, or L & R. Great for introducing new patterns.)
  • Sentence -> Say Another Sentence
  • Sentence -> Say Another Sentence -> (Teacher) Pardon? -> (Student) Repeat