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The ABC of ELT

3 Alternatives To Hangman Which Aren’t Hangman (But Kind of Are)

Hangman is a common resident of many English language teaching classrooms. For low levels and young learners it has a great advantage of getting kids to say individual letters and help clarify some differences and confusion (for example E, I and A in Polish or H, J and W in Spanish). However, it can also become a lazy option to waste five minutes at the end of the class or a crutch for teachers. So here are 3 activities which totally aren’t hangman…but kind of are.

Mastermind

As a kid, I remember having a set of the mastermind game. In this came you had to guess a word and each time you guessed, you’d get told what letters are not in the word, present but in the wrong place or in the correct place. This get’s students to guess words and not just letters and they have to think about what words contain letters and in the correct place. In my opinion, it is much more challenging because a students may have worked out a letter goes in a certain place (via the process of elimination) but then they have to work out what words have that letter in that place. Here’s an example showing how it works where a cross means the letter isn’t present, an empty circle means that the letter is in the word but a different place, and filled in means it is absolutely correct.

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Countdown

I believe countdown is an official institution in the UK now and street countdown is a firm fixture of many streets. Anyway this version of Countdown is basically just “hangman” except you give the students a limit on the number of vowels and consonants that they can guess first. So for example, 2 vowels and 4 consonants. After they have got them on the board, they can only guess what the word is and no extra words are added in. Of course, sometimes students makes…less wise guesses like “Z” or “X” rather than focusing on more frequently occurring letters. As such, you might need to let them guess a couple more letters. (I’ve had a group guess one letter which really didn’t help much.)

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Falling down the stairs

Okay, this one really is just hangman…but instead of constructing a gallows where the victim is hung, there are a set of stairs leading to some awful fate (for example, a shark waiting to eat the victim) and after each incorrect guess, the victim falls closer toward the shark.

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Any other ideas?

Those are just three ideas for non hangman activities…which really kind of are hangman. Do you know any other hangman like activities?

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

2 Replies

  1. I used to love Mastermind too 🙂 Never seen this variation on it before – nice!

    1. I’m fairly certain I stole it from a teacher at a summer school but I can’t remember who… but it’s been a handy tool in my tool belt this year.

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