Sink or swim

16th March 2007 at 00:00
Ages 11 to 18

My pupils of all ages love playing battleships and I use the game to revise and practise vocabulary, phrases and grammar constructions.

Pupils draw a table with four boxes after recapping the new information I want to go over by brainstorming.

Each box is numbered in the corner, one to four. Pupils then select four items from the board and write them one per box. This is done in secret.

Then on the board we recap how to play. We write up the target language for numbers one to four, yes and no and sunk and won (gesunkennoye, gewonnengagne). Pupils take it in turns to guess an item.

If they guess the item correctly in the target language then they get to guess the box it is hidden in. This game gets pupils practising lots of target language quickly.

I even use it with A-level groups if I want to familiarise them with topic specific vocabulary quickly.

With older or more able groups we increase the number of battleships (boxes) and use different numbers.

This game is brilliant as a lesson starter, filler or as a fun change of activity.

It is also possible to use it in other subjects: chemistry for chemical symbols, history for dates and so on.

I have had classes set up leagues tables for the best players and everyone always cheers when I write the title battleships on the board Ideal for lists of vocabulary are the Malvern Guides.Lindsay Slack teaches modern languages at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Wakefield

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today