the ultimate listening game: ask Google assistant

Here is a listening game that you will fall in love with and, most importantly, your A1- A2 students will too. You may also try this with higher levels with the suggested items below or with more specific searches.

You need Google assistant on your computer or a phone and a set of speakers. Arrange your students in groups of three or four and decide on lexical items you would like to review. Let’s say your students have been learning words for jobs. Then go on Google and click on the microphone icon and say (or have a student say) “names of jobs beginning with t”. Google assistant will list five or six jobs on your screen and a computerised voice will be reading those words out. If you have a setup of a computer, projector and a screen in the classroom, hide it from view or tell the students not to look at it while they listen to the answers and write them down. There will always be answers they should be able to understand and identify at the suggested language level, as you can see on the video I recorded below (it’s also worth noticing that the quality of the computerised voice is quite impressive). And as for the answers that the students won’t know, it is up to you to decide to teach something on the side or not.

the ultimate listening game: ask Google assistant


A trick: if you have another tab open on your browser, you can quickly move tabs when Google starts to read out answers, in order for the students not to see those answers on the screen. Then, once you have checked answers with the class, you can switch back to the Google search screen for them to see. Or you can simply connect a phone to the speakers and run the activity just the same, but a computer and a screen allow for checking answers after each round. Give your teams one point for each of the words they identified.

You may decide to have a different array of questions or narrow this down to one lexical area, and play different rounds with different letters of the alphabet (as in “jobs beginning with t”, “jobs beginning with w”, etc.).

So how can this be used for low levels? Here are some items that work really well.

  • jobs beginning with …
  • names of men/women beginning with …
  • names of countries beginning with …
  • names of foods beginning with …
  • names of sports beginning with …
  • names of birthday presents beginning with …
  • best movies of the eighties/best movies of 2018
  • common hobbies beginning with …
  • fun things to do at the weekend
  • dates (when was “x” born?/when did “x”die?
  • numbers (what’s the population of Japan?)
  • the weather (what’s the weather like in Dallas today?)

Can you think of more? Lovely and principled use of technology and tons of fun and learning. And last but not least: zero preparation!!

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