Game/Activity: Task-Based Race for Groups


Catchy name, no?

I created this activity for my TEFL/TESOL certificate course, but I got the idea from teaching a 3rd-year middle school class in Japan (15-year-olds). We played a group race game like this but with 3 activities and as a review lesson. The students loved it.

This activity can be modified for class size, class length, student level, task types, and grammar point/vocabulary list/review lesson. It is intended to take up an entire class period, and it works best if there are two teachers in the room to help conduct the activities.

The grammar point I used to construct this activity was how to use the simple present tense as a future tense. These are sentences like “It begins at noon” and “My flight leaves on Sunday.” A simple but good explanation can be found on this site.

Level: Intermediate+

Goal: Students will learn the use of the simple present tense as a future tense (SPF) and practice it by competing in groups in a 4-activity race. Students will be able to recognize the SPF tense when heard and read. Students will be able to craft and say their own SPF sentences.


For Task 1

2 or 3 written SPF sentences, 2 or 3 written simple present as present (SPP) sentences, 2 or 3 incorrect “SPF” sentences

Paddle/sign/item for each group to hold up

For Task 2

One paragraph using SPF and SPP sentences

For Task 3

Paper and pencils for the students


Prizes for the winners


The teacher will prepare all the items beforehand. After reviewing the simple present tense as future tense grammar point, explain the rules of the game and have students move into groups. Three-five students per group is ideal.

Instructions to Students

This game is a race between the groups. There are four tasks to complete. The first group to complete them all correctly wins. Here are the instructions for each task.

1. Listening task

Each group will receive a [paddle/sign/other item] they can raise to signal their answers.  I [the teacher] will read some sentences, one at a time. They might be normal present-tense sentences, or they might be from our grammar point–a present tense as a future tense sentence. I’ll repeat each sentence no more than 2 times.

After the final time, you will have 30 seconds to decide: is it an SPF sentence? On the count of 3, one person from your group will hold up your [paddle/sign/item] if your group thinks YES. If you think NO, please leave [the item] down. (*Alternatively, students can turn the item to the NO side.) I will keep a tally of the correct answers. Groups who do not get 60-75% correct must redo Task 1 while the groups who passed move on to Task 2.

2. Reading task

After completing Task 1, your group will receive a written paragraph. You must find each SPF sentence. Using two different [highlighters/pens/markers], you must underline the present tense verbs in the SPF sentence and circle the time phrase(s). Once finished, bring your paper to me. When all answers are correct, your group will pass on to Task 3.

3. Writing task

Once Task 2 is completed, each member of your group will receive a piece of paper. Each person must create three original SPF sentences. You may consult with each other, and you may bring their paper to me for help. However, I will only answer with responses like: “One of the sentences is not correct.” (Or if the students are really struggling: “Look at number 2 again.”) Once all the sentences are correct, start memorizing your sentences for Task 4. (They can continue to assist their teammates who are still writing.)

4. Speaking task

Once every member in your group has completed Task 3, you may hand your written sentences to the teacher and begin reciting them from memory. Once all 3 of your sentences are correct, you are finished. All team members must finish before Task 4 is considered complete. The first group to complete Task 4 is the winner!

Examples for Task 1 and Task 2

Red words = time expressions
Green words = present tense
Orange words = incorrect portions
Purple words = future tense

Task 1 Examples

SPF sentences

On Thursday she has a meeting.
The plane leaves in one hour.

SPP sentences

I work at Walmart.
Tokyo is the capital city of Japan.

Incorrect “SPF” sentences

It snows at 5 AM tomorrow.  (Correct: It will/may snow at 5 AM tomorrow.)
The store will close on Saturday. (Correct: The store closes on Saturday.)

Task 2 paragraph example
(SPF text colored)

My name is Jonathan, and I am in the 6th grade. I have an older brother. His name is Henry. Henry is in high school and is very busy. On Monday he has a math test and a science test! After school on Tuesday and Thursday, he swims at the gym. He studies French on Wednesday night. He and his girlfriend like the Star Wars movies. The new Star Wars movie plays at the movie theater on Friday evening. Henry is in a band with his friends. Henry plays the drums and sings. Their band name is Global Sound. Global Sound practices all day on Saturday. Finally, on Sunday, our family goes to church. Henry is so busy! I’m scared to go to high school. I don’t want to be that busy! I want to watch TV instead!


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