This is an adaptation of the popular children's game where you have to pick up matching pictures, but in this activity we use the two parts of collocations.

Shaun Dowling


During regular classes, note down the word combinations that come up. Then put each part of the collocations on two separates pieces of paper. Here is an example I had when we were talking about the environment. The word combinations were:

ozone layer
oil spills
environmentally friendly
cut down trees
greenhouse effect
animal poaching
endangered species
melting polar ice caps
recycle waste

The first part of each phrase (e.g. ozone) should be written on one colour sheet of paper or, if you haven't got coloured paper, in a different coloured pen. Then with a different colour piece of paper or pen, write the second part of the phrase (e.g. layer).  


  • Put all of the first parts of each phrase together, face down on the floor. Then mix up the second parts and put them face down in a separate group.
  • Students take turns to pick up one piece of paper from each group, trying to find the correct collocation. If they are wrong, they should put them back in the same place.
  • As the students match them up incorrectly, they start to recall the correct collocation or phrase.
  • For larger groups, you can either make several sets so students can play in pairs or small groups, or students can work as teams and each team takes turns.
  • The activity is fun which also aids efficient memorising of the target language. The more opportunities we allow our students to see the words the more likely they are to actually have them 'stuck in their heads' for easy access at a later stage.
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