NEXT! – An A-Z Vocabulary Game Based on Pasapalabra

Part of the Teaching Tool Thursdays Series

I am always searching for new games that can engage and motivate English Language Learners. A few weeks ago, fellow teacher, Hannah R. and I were discussing the games we were playing in online classes with our older students (10 and up). She mentioned having turned the popular Spanish game show, Pasapalabra, into a game for her classes.

In NEXT! (Pasapalabra) each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a question which can be answered with a word that starts with that letter of the alphabet. For example, “A” might pose the question: “A fruit that is red or green.” The answer would be “apple”. The game is normally played by two players who take turns answering as many questions as they can until they get stuck and say pass or miss a question. For language classes, the game can be adapted in a myriad of ways to suit the size and level of your students.

Homemade (Low Tech) Version

Make a wheel with all the letters of the alphabet. Use a clothespin or paperclip to mark where you are on the wheel.
Then, use an online quiz like this or one of your own to ask questions. Ask for a volunteer to start answering the question for A and continue with the same student until they miss a question. At that point it will be someone else’s turn. This version of the game works for online and in-person classes.

Note: If you choose to play with one player answering until they miss, I suggest that you use difficult questions, set a maximum time limit per turn, and that you do it in classes that are not too large so that everyone can play.

Otherwise, you can randomly call on students in turn for each letter. In this version, students all stand and can pass if they don’t know the answer (and remain in the game), an incorrect answer eliminates that player from the round and they must sit down. When playing during online classes, you can start with everyone’s hands raised. If a student answers incorrectly, you would lower their hand until the end of that round. Then, you would play again with new questions and everyone would be “back in”.

Online Version

You can create your own online NEXT! game at the Educaplay website for free. Although a premium (paid) package is also offered, the free version allows you to create your own games which work perfectly! Your NEXT! game can have definitions, pictures or audio recordings for each letter of the alphabet. This allows you to choose which type will best suit your students. You can also search games that have already been created by others on the website. I have already created three games which you are free to use and have linked below. As I create more, you can find them under my profile.

For online classes, you can use it similarly to stated above under the homemade version or you can simply allow students to raise their hands and try to guess the correct answer. Eliminating students does not necessarily need to be the goal at all since there is an automatic time limit to complete the entire puzzle.

A collaborative option focuses on emphasizing the goal of finishing before time runs out. Students should do their best to raise their hands if they think they know the answer. Remind them to pay attention carefully so as not to repeat any wrong answers. If students are unable to guess correctly after 5 (or 10 tries depending on class size), you would skip the question and count it as a “miss”. If you play like this, it’s a good idea to keep track of your class’s score (and time it took to complete it). That way you can replay it at a later date and collaboratively try to beat their previous record!

If you enjoy this game or come up with other variations, please share in the comments below.

Once again, I want to give a big thank you to Hannah R. for sharing this idea.

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