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The spending maze
It is based on a 'maze' principle, which gives students different options and a variety of different financial outcomes. There isn't one 'correct' answer, so different groups find themselves spending the money different ways - so you can use the activity several times with the same class. It is an excellent, fun way to practise the 'functional' language of agreement and disagreement, suggestion and negotiation in a genuinely 'communicative' activity.
Download the maze activity cards below.
- Set the context for your students:
The students have won one million euros and want to spend it in the best possible way. You can set the context by describing the situation, telling an anecdote, showing a picture or posing some discussion questions. I find that students love to talk about their experiences and ambitions - ask them if they have ever won anything and ask them what they would do if they won lots of money.
- When the context has been established, put the students in groups of 2 to 5. The activity can be run as a whole class activity with you using one set of cards. The students ask you for the card they have chosen after each discussion. This works best if there aren't too many groups, maybe three or four maximum. You can also run the activity as independent group work, with a set of cards for each group. With both these ways, make sure the cards are put back in the pack once the group has moved to the next card.
- Explain the activity. Students listen to or read what is written on the first card. They must then discuss the different options and come to an agreement about what to do. They then read the next card until they reach a conclusion and find out if they spent the money wisely or not. It is absolutely vital that the students really discuss each option and its possible implications; if they don't, they will finish very quickly and will not have had the speaking practice that the activity is intended to provide.
- Your role: Walk around and listen to the groups. You may have to help lower levels with the reading. (One of the great things about this activity is that students have a powerful reason to want to understand.) If groups are not really discussing much, ask questions about their reasons for their decisions and prompt them to discuss more. Before you start the activity, think carefully about how to group the students. How can you best encourage speaking?
Especially at lower levels, it can be a good idea to pre-teach vocabulary which you know the students will need for the activity. The maze gives them the chance to learn the words by using them!
Here is a list of words related to business and finance used in the maze. You could focus on some or all of these.
to run a business
expand a business
Functional language pre-teaching
It can really help the flow of conversation if students are confident in using functional language. In this activity, students will be discussing, negotiating and making decisions. They may also be arguing, disagreeing and changing their minds! Think of the different expressions and structures we use when we do these things; for example:
- "I think we should . . ."
- "That's a good idea but . . ."
- "What about . . ."
- "Let's . . ."
- "I don't agree with . . . "
- "I've changed my mind."