countries for beginners

The draw for the Russia 2018 World Cup has been held and since many of our students will be building up excitement leading towards the tournament, I just imagined a lesson for beginners using the draw as a framework. The students will be practicing the pronunciation of countries and also trying to say things about those countries that they know how to in English, thus generating interesting vocabulary and sentences at the language level.

  1. First of all, ask the students if they can come up with a full list of the 32 countries that will be playing in the next World Cup in Russia. Do they know which countries? Do they know the names for those countries in English? Tell them they can help each other, get out of their seats and ask peers. Give them a few minutes and then prompt their answers. Have a student write the countries on the board. Drill pronunciation of countries with your class.
  2. Have the students work in pairs. Student A looks at the board. Student B looks away. Student A picks a country and says: “Give me a country with letter P”. Student B answers: “Panama” (or “Peru”, “Poland” or “Portugal”). If B doesn’t know, A can reveal it. After a round of 7 or 8 countries, students switch roles. Circulate to help and fix possible mispronunciations.
  3. Then tell the students that they are going to host an alternative draw to the one held on December 1st 2017 (a few hours ago today, as I’m typing these words). It will be a pure draw with no seeded teams to keep it simple (pun intended). Have a few students write the names of countries on strips of paper and roll them into balls. You may give one student four strips of paper to write the top four countries on the board on them, another student can do the next four and so on.
  4. Collect the rolled-up strips of paper and let the draw begin! Have a student pick any four papers for group A, another student any four papers for group B, etc. They should read the names of the countries out (have other students annotate the names on the board). I just had an alternative draw from today’s using random number generator from Google and this is what I came up with. D and E are tough groups!

my draw

5. Then set up eight teams in your class. If you have less than eight students, then some groups will be left out. Depending on class sizes, you may have students working in pairs, threes or fours. Each team will pick a different group from the board and will have about 5-10 minutes to gather information about the countries in the group. Anything that they know about those countries and that they can say in English. For instance, for group A they might be able to generate sentences like these:

Dakar is the capital of Senegal. Senegal is a country in Africa. The colors of the flag are green, yellow and red. Iceland is a very cold country. Senegal is a very hot country. People in Peru speak Spanish. People in Sweden speak Swedish. Swedish people are very tall. People in Senegal are very tall too. Iceland is an island. My favourite country to visit is Iceland. 

Anything they know and that they are able to say. Students will be working in their groups first and then you can switch to plenary mode and each group can tell the rest.

Zero preparation time for the teacher and maximum output for the students. Enjoy!


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