Book Reviews

to appear in "IATEFL"
Reviewed by: Wayne Trotman

 
Shenanigames
by James Kealey and Donna Inness
©1997 Pro Lingua Associates
ISBN: 0-86647-100-6

Such books as Shenanigames, filled as they are with useful tasks, are always welcome in English departments searching for activities to keep learners both learning and, perhaps just as important, interested in learning the language. No doubt there are still, sadly, a few teachers who believe that valuable grammar lessons can't contain engrossing, thought-provoking and fun-filled tasks; Shenanigames is a book such teachers would do well to dip into. It's yet another valuable addition to an increasingly long list of titles from a publisher that places an emphasis upon what they call "interplay" - a view of English language learning as active play whilst learners are busy interacting both with the material in this book and each other in the classroom.

Activities in Shenanigames, beyond photo-copying, cutting and distributing material, require little else from the busy "facilitator" - the teacher as organizer - who is left free to wander around and observe learners engaged in each task. This book is divided into 22 short sections, each relating to a single grammatical item such as adjectives, modals, participles and verbs. This should not be mistaken for a grammar textbook although activities are grouped according to a grammar focus if only for ease of reference. All activities I used are, in my opinion excellent supplementary or revision material for any course in ESL instruction based around grammar, listening and speaking.

Preceding each activity there is a complete or half page outlining brief but helpful aspects involved such as a language focus, a summary of the game, the suggested most suitable number of players, the preparation involved and the directions students will need. Following this there's generally between 1-3 pages of vocabulary lists, names to match with pictures, schedules to fill in, report sheets, trivia questions, "What if.." questions, fractured sentences to reconstruct, crosswords, ghost stories and searches for advice. Yes, all in one book! In total there are 49 different activities and 96 photocopiable masters.

Obviously with books of this nature the right age and level of proficiency are difficult to predict. The authors admit as much in the introduction and quite rightly in my opinion add that games are easily open to adaptation. There does seem, also, to be somewhat of an imbalance at times between the space in Shenanigames devoted to certain parts of language: there are four activities related to modals, conditionals and question forming, but only one each for nouns, prepositions and prefixes, whilst the section on verbs contains twelve activities. And although the authors state that up to twenty students may participate in various activities, the optimum figure would, in terms of preparation time and organization, be nearer to ten for the majority of the ones I used.

Shenanigames is well worth taking a close look at if you need to find that little activity from time to time to liven up your course and perhaps regain a little lost interest. If the learner interest is already high in your classroom, then using this book is very highly recommended.

-Wayne Trotman
Özel Çakabey Lisesi
Izmir - Turkey
email: wayne@egenet.com.tr


 



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