Us teachers are a creative bunch. We have games to practice vocabulary, to practice spelling, to practice present continuous or past simple. One of my favourite games to use in the classroom however is ‘I have never’.
It can be used with pre-teens, teenagers or adults, for freer practice (or review of) present perfect simple. Works best with small classes (under 10 students) although it could potentially be played in smaller groups within a larger class.
Materials: paperclips, counters (or, if you’re feeling really nice, sweets) – 5 per student
Sit the students in a group or circle. Distribute the paperclips (or other tokens) to the students. Tell the students that they need to win as many paperclips as possible – if they have zero, they are out of the game. The winner is the person with the most paperclips.
Demonstrate by saying a (true!) sentence about you**, starting ‘I have never…’ (eg. I have never visited America). Ask each of the students in turn ‘Have you ever visited America?’* Those students who answer ‘yes’ must give you one of their paperclips.
The turn then passes to the next student – who says an ‘I have never…’ sentence, and then (hopefully!) receives paperclips.
The game continues until either one student has lost all their paperclips, in which case the winner is the person with the most paperclips, or until multiple students are out and it is clear that one is the winner!
*The question can be left out after the initial example – students tend to quickly understand that if they have done the action they need to hand over a paperclip. Alternatively this stage can be kept if you want to provide further practice of the question form.
**If you are joining in the game and speak little to none of the students’ L1, a good tactic is to start introducing sentences like ‘I have never read a book in [L1]’, ‘I have never watched a film in [L1]’ – most or all of the students losing a paperclip on one round tends to really fire up the competition!