Ace Multiple-Choice Questions in Stimulating Ways

Ace Multiple-Choice Questions in Stimulating Ways

Regardless of the vital role of grammar in learning a language, many learners tend to look at grammar as something boring to acquire.

Any devoted teachers, therefore, can’t turn a blind eye and it’s a demanding but intriguing task for language teachers to blow a fresh air to grammar acquisition. “How to inspire and motivate learners to study grammar?” is a big question and a long way to reach the perfect answer. Along the way, applying games in class is the most preference to language teachers to address to the above question. In my grammar class, game is an indispensable part of my lesson plan and it always contributes to the success of my class. From my experience, involving learners in preparing activities or, in other words, giving learners a chance to organize the class even leads to more prominent success in term of inspiration and motivation.

Among types of frequent exercises, multiple – choice questions have been used in most grammar tests and they have become definitely familiar to all English learners. This kind of question has been applied in all English teaching programs and also the international exams like TOEFL, IELTS or TOEIC. Just giving answers attached with some explanations for each question may bring boredom to learners. In other words, passive-listening cannot ensure total attention since getting distracted usually happens in every mind even in some seconds during listening process. Locking students’ attention in lessons is challenging but captivating to any devoted teachers. Raising students’ sense of initiative in class by leaving it up to them to periodically set up activities for the whole class while making their presentation or correcting exercises can address to this issue when totally involving all students in the active-learning process. Believe it or not, my students’ creativity in building up activities is sometimes beyond my expectation leading to fully-exciting astonishment. The ideas for the activities in this article, brought up by me or my students, were adapted and edited everywhere from television game show, some kinds of international or national knowledge contests and even outdoor or indoor traditional games. The details of 10 best activities out of around 37 activities developed and created by us are described as follows:

Try Fresh Ideas of Dealing with Grammar

  1. 1

    Answer – Card Catching

    Idea germinating from Vietnamese traditional game “Cướp Cờ” (flag catching).

    1. Participants: divide the class into two teams.
    2. Preparation: answer-card: write the answers A, B, C and D on cards or cubes.
    3. Procedure:
      Each team stand in its horizontal line against the walls, which are opposite to each other. Each student in each team is labeled with a number. (E.g.: number 1 for the first student, number 2 for the next and the like for the remaining).
      Answer cards are put together on the designated position at the middle of the two teams.
      The teacher calls out a number and two students with their number called in each team promptly run to the designated position and try to quickly pick the correct answer card matching with the question. The one who can catch the correct answer card first is called the catcher and the non-catcher for the other.
      After catching the card, the catcher tries to run back to his/her team without being touched by the noncatcher, and then wins one point for his/her team. In the mean time, the non-catcher runs after the catcher to touch him/her on any parts of his/her body. If successful, they draw. To ensure the understanding, the teacher can ask the winner to give explanation of the correct choice.

    Extension: to make it even more captivating, the teacher can call many numbers or even the whole team each time.

  2. 2

    Answer-card Hunting:

    Idea germinating from animal-hunting activity.

    1. Participants: divide the class into two teams or three teams up to the teacher. Each member in each team is labeled with a number.
    2. Preparation: answer-card: write the answers A, B, C and D on cards.
    3. Procedure:
      The answer cards are faced down and put at distinct positions around the class.
      After delving into each multiple-choice question, the teacher calls out a number and the students with their number called in each team promptly run around the class to hunt for the correct answer card and quickly head back the team. On the way back, other hunters can rob the correct answer card from the successful hunter. The first successful hunter safely reaching home wins one point for his/her team.

    Extension: to make it even more captivating, the teacher can call many numbers or even the whole team each time.

  3. 3


    Idea germinating from Vietnamese traditional game “Chọi cầu” (shuttle cock throwing)

    1. Participants: divide the class into two teams or three teams up to the teacher.
    2. Preparation: shuttle cocks, balls, crumpled papers or anything else can throw at one’s body without causing hurt. The number of this material should match with the number of the teams.
    3. Procedure:
      Four students are chosen to be the aims standing in front of the teams. Each is labeled A, B, C or D.
      After each question, the first members in each team use the shuttlecocks to throw at the aim symbolizing the correct answer. In the meantime, “the aim” should run away to avoid being hit by any shuttle cocks. The student successfully hitting the correct aim first gives explanation for the choice and wins one point for his/her team.
  4. 4

    Gourd - Crab – Lobster – Fish

    Idea germinating from Vietnamese traditional game “Bầu cua” (Gourd & Crab)

    1. Participants: divide the class into teams of two to three members. Otherwise, students can join in the activity individually.
    2. Preparation: Buying a set of “Gourd and Crab” from bookstores or supermarkets. “Gourd” symbolizes answer A; “Crab” symbolizes answer B; “lobster” symbolizes answer C and “fish” symbolizes answer D; “Cock” and “Deer” should be disregarded. Otherwise, teachers can create by themselves. What needed is a broad sheet of paper divided by four and each square symbolizes one answer A, B, C or D.
      Three cubes with each choice A, B, C or D attached on each face; two other faces can leave blank.
    3. Procedure:
      Teacher gives each team 100 points.
      For each question, each team bets a part of their points to their answer on the broad sheet. The points each team wins depend on their bet points and the result of throwing dices. E.g, team 1 bets 2 points for answer A; team 2 bets 4 points for answer B. Then, the teacher tosses the three dices; if two dices have faces A up and one dice has face B up, team 1 wins 4 more points for their team and team 2 wins 4 points for their team. If only one dice has face A up; one dice has face C up and one with blank face up, team 1 wins 2 points and team 2 has 4 points subtracted from their total points.
      Needless to say, explanation for each choice is essential to ensure total understanding.
      The team with the most point wins the game.
  5. 5

    TPR: Total Physical Response:

    1. Participants: divide the class into three teams or four teams up to the teacher.
    2. Procedure:
      • Teacher models TPR
        Answer A: slap one’s head with two hands
        Answer B: flap one’s shoulders with two hands
        Answer C: clap one’s hands
        Answer D: bang on the table with two hands
      • The teams take turn to give their answer through TPR.
        Rule: all members in each team must do TPR simultaneously. Otherwise, no point is given.
      • The team doing TPR the most simultaneously with the correct answer give explanation for their choice and win one point for their team.
  6. 6

    Ring the Golden Bell

    Idea germinating from Vietnamese television show for tertiary students “Rung Chuông Vàng” (Ring the golden bell)

    1. Participants: all students are players.
    2. Preparation:
      • Each student prepares four answer-cards: write the answer A, B, C or D on each card.
      • Two or three good students can be selected to prepare the questions and explanations on power point slides.
    3. Procedure:
      • After each question is shown, each player holds up his/her answer card.
      • Those who give wrong answer choice are excluded from the game.
      • The last student wins the big prize from the teacher.
  7. 7

    King Touching

    1. Participants: divide the class into two teams. One member in each team is appointed to be the KING while other members are the guards.
    2. Preparation: chairs for two kings putting at the back of each team.
    3. Procedure:
      The King of each team sits on his chair behind the line of the guards who are numbered.
      The activity leader calls out a number or two.
      The students with their numbers called run to the area of the opponent and try to touch the king. The guards of the king prevent the opponents from touching their King at any costs without using their hands.
      Who can touch the King first wins their team’s turn to answer the question and get a point.
  8. 8

    Boat Rowing

    Idea germinating from Vietnamese traditional game “đua thuyền”

    1. Participants: divide the class into two teams or three teams up to the teacher.
    2. Preparation: Students in each team sit in line and physically connect to each other by legs
    3. Procedure:
      • The representative of each team plays rock-paper-scissors with that of other teams. The winner wins his/her team’s right to give the answer for each multiple-choice question.
      • If the answer is correct, the whole team can move one step forward simultaneously.
      • The team reaching the finish line first is the winner and can choose to punish the losers in their own exciting way.
  9. 9

    Chairs and Music

    1. Participants: divide the class into two teams or three teams.
    2. Preparation:
      Four chairs representing the answers A, B, C or D are put in the middle.
      Students stand in a circle around the four chairs.
    3. Procedure:
      • Exercise-correcting team plays music
      • All participants run around in the circle.
      • The leading team stops the music and students try to run to the four chairs and sit down to the chair representing the correct choice.
      • The leading team decides whether the choice is right or wrong. If the answer is correct, the winning team must give explanation and wins one point.
  10. q

    Chair Exchanging

    1. Participants: All students in class.
    2. Preparation:
      • Chairs are arranged in a circle.
      • Answer cards: each choice A, B, C or D is written on different cards. There should be two or more series of each choice based on the number of students in class.
    3. Procedure:
      • Distributing the answer cards to students randomly. Each student may have two or three various cards.(i.e. student X may have answer cards A, C; student Y holds B, D etc.)
      • Students sit on chairs in the circle.
      • Teacher corrects multiple-choice question one after another. To show answer for each question, students holding the correct answer cards promptly stand up and exchange chairs to each other.
        Students will be punished if they have the correct answer card but sit still, or they exchange chairs while holding the incorrect one.
        Note: “punishment” should be short and in fun way.

In one word, gaining learners’ initiative or autonomy by giving them chances to organize the class with their own activities is the best way to gain excitement about learning.

It goes without saying that students will feel more committed, more enthusiastic to absorb and digest knowledge. Certainly, teachers should model some activities to orient students before passing the class to them. Together with students, teachers can get a collection of innovative games/ activities for any classes to address to multiple-choice questions thus germinate enthusiasm in learning inside each learner. Last but not least, though these activities are applied in my grammar class, they can be used in any classes to deal with multiple-choice questions as well.

This is a guest article by Thanh Bui, an independent author. This article reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of as a publication.
Thanh Bui is currently teaching at Tan Tao university, Vietnam. She earned her M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Victoria University, Australia. Her practical hands-on teaching experience has been formed upon around 10 years of teaching English to students at universities, English centers and high school. She enjoys frequently innovating teaching techniques to reach every student's learning style and to bring students handy and exciting moments in class. A debate-style class has been picked to enhance critical thinking and active participation among students in her class.

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