Mini puzzles to start a lesson with
Go direct to the starters collection.
Teachers are familiar with the idea of starting a lesson with a brief and highly focused activity so as to clear students’ minds for the main business. It has been suggested (actually, by Nick Mair) that starters based on UKLO-style puzzles would be helpful in teaching foreign languages, and it seems likely that the same would be true for English language and Classics.
For instance, we might imagine a five-minute starter based on any of the following:
- subject-verb agreement in Latin (starting a Spanish lesson)
- meanings of verbs of motion in German (showing the impossibility of accurate translation)
- the geographical distribution of languages with a word like German gern (showing how languages can borrow abstract patterns from their neighbours)
- the semantics and morphology of English once, twice, three times, … and first, second, third, … twenty-fifth, … (showing how irregularity increases with common-ness, and how structure can conflict with meaning)
All these possibilities are fleshed out in the collection so far.
In an ideal world, this website would give access to a neatly classified collection containing hundreds of starters, so that any teacher can find a suitable one for starting any lesson. This is where you could come in: see if you can create one or two, and send them to Dick Hudson.
But if you do create a problem, please provide the following information, in this order:
- Name (e.g. Subject-verb agreement)
- Aim (e.g. to show how different subjects require different verb forms; or how a language can do without subject pronouns)
- Relevant target language (e.g. Spanish)
- Source language (of data, e.g. Latin)
- Data (the data the puzzle is based on)
- Questions (the task for the students)
- Solutions (your solutions)
We’ll update this page to report progress.