Learn, Practise and Test through Bingo

I’m organizing my for the next term that starts in the second week of February. Most of my blogposts are about my 9th grade groups. I know what this year will be like as the students that were in 8th grade and participating in the Project Up in English are going to be my students this year. Few of them I already know because I taught them last year in the Language Center. I will not have very high level students like I had last year, but I’m sure there will be some beginners. So, this is my plan for the next term:
  • First week: It is all about us. (Still in planning stage)
  • From second week: Let’s start with words.

So let me start with a Bingo!


It’s is fun.

They love it.

I want to use it to actually test the vocabulary.


I have to keep in mind that there will be new students in the program who might or might not be a total beginner. I’ll use the format of Bingo to present, practise and test vocabulary.

But what words?

I decided to follow Phillip Kerrs¹ suggestion and adopt the alternative approach, instead of a semantic one, which is (1) look at the material (text), (2) predict the items that will be problematic, (3) select and (4) write material that will introduce/practise. I made sure that the text was rich in high frequency words. In order to discover that I used a  tool called Frequency Level Checker. I want most of the words to be from Level 1 ( The most frequent 1000 words of English and their word families). Luckly the story I chose to work with has around 89% of them and 93% of the NGSL.This is what the result look like, here.

Kevin Stein suggested me using the New General Service List (NGSL) to guide me through word choice. He has actually written a great post which is a #mustread if you want to know more about word frequency, NGSL and reasons why we should be using it.


I have this lovely book called Lost and Found which is part of a collection of 3 books from the same author. Lucky me I found some videos I can use with it which will add the audiovisual element to the lesson that they like so much.

How to play while presenting and practising the vocabulary selected?


1- Select the words from the Lost and Found story.

2- Create the bingo cards. Use a free Bingo online generator.

3- Print out slips of paper without the words, just the definition in L1* (I want my learners to create an image of it instead of think first of a word) and a sample sentence. Not the same from the story. In this way, they will have the opportunity to encounter the same word, same meaning again but in a new context. *ideal for monolingual groups. Maybe teachers who do not share students language, can ask someone to record it. ** Pictures/miming could be used alongside the definition and sample sentence.


1-Students choose their Bingo cards. They will have to have on their desks, the bingo cards and the notebook.

2 – Draw a slip of paper from the box (or a bag). Student listen attentively and on their notebooks, they will write down only the sample sentence. They’ll need time to hear and transcribe the sentence.

3- Read aloud the description of the word again and ask them to circle the word in the sentence on their notebooks. Then, cross out the word on their bingo card. There might be a great chance that beginners won’t know what word to circle. Here comes the Presentation, Practise and Test. It is test because the elementary/pre-intermediate learners will have a chance to test themselves. It is presentation because learners who are first encountering any of those items will have a chance to learn it. In both cases they are practising with the vocabulary. Few weeks later, I can challenge them to know these words by heart + the other ones not included in this bingo but that are part of the story and chosen to be taught later. I’ll also keep a chart with the new words and encourage students to create their own vocabulary list so they can record new vocabulary items on their notebooks.

4- After giving students enough time to transcribe, circle and cross out, I’ll elicit the word and record it on the board so everyone can check if they circled the correct word.

5- The Bingo ends when all the slips of paper have been worked on. * I’ll try to focus my sample sentences on simple past as the story is told using the simple past. After recording the words on the board, I’ll work with them through word family, associations and quick grammar points related to the sample sentences after the bingo is over. This will give a chance for them to take notes, ask questions and create new sentences of their own.

This is a ludic way to present and practise  vocabulary from a story/a text/a dialogue and gives everyone an opportunity to participate in the game. It can also become competitive later on once everyone knows what words they will have to listen too and be attentive to mark on their cards, as well as a great chance to recycle it again. Needless to say that all this has to be carried out with enthusiasm so it can be learning in a way that is fun.


5 thoughts on “Learn, Practise and Test through Bingo

    • Hi Kylie, thanks for reading and commenting.

      That is the way I found that helps me the most make sense of what I do, want to do or think I am doing. I wish I knew how to make it more practical for other teachers reading. I can only offer what it is like for me in my context. AT the end every teacher has to be able to do their own critical thinking on stuff. In fact, thanks to you I read exactly that in the morning in Pedagogy of Freedom. In the Foreword it is mentioned some of the things that involves teaching: Teaching requires a capacity to be critical, Teaching requires humility, and Teaching requires critical reflection.

      Be free to use any of those ideas whenever you want. I hope they are useful for your context.


  1. This sounds like a great game and a great way to find out what vocabulary level your students are really at. I really like that you’re paying attention to and using high frequency words. I wish more CBs did.

    I use BINGO in class a little differently, mostly for lower levels. I use it with the vocabulary in the CB – the students fill the squares with single words. We go around the room to give each student a chance to call a square of their choice, but in order to take a square the calling student has to use the word in a question. The student who can answer the question becomes the next caller. This is how I review the words and also the language around the words and I can decide what level of accuracy is acceptable.

    Thanks for sharing your game and your thought process and that lovely story!


    • Thanks Anne for sharing how you modified Bingo. I would like to try that out but I need you to help me visualize it a bit further when you have the time. Take your time though. I still have weeks before I can use those ideas. I created a page for games and I’ll add the Bingo there. If you don’t mind I think it can be a good alternative to add to the page and a variation to play with them later on. What do you think?


      • That sounds like a great idea.
        I like giving my students some control of the games (although I find that when they control the games, I almost never win!).
        I’d like to see your games page when it’s ready. That would be a great place for anyone to come with ideas and variations.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s