That’s the premise behind balloon debate, a wonderful worksheet game I came across several years ago.
The game can be found at a wonderful ESL website called EFL4U.
I also discuss it in my book English Rocks! 101 ESL Games, Activities, and Lesson Plans.
Today I got a message on Facebook from someone named Rowan Munro who teaches ESL in Thailand. He sent me a message telling me that he tried out Balloon Debate and it went really well in his class.
It’s a great game that’s very easy to adapt and change to many different purposes. For example, here’s a ESL debate handout I’d often use, much like you’ll see these kids using.
Let’s get into this game a bit, as well as show some pictures of students having fun using it (please take pictures of your classes; I didn’t do it enough and regret it).
Something like that might look a little silly, and your students will probably get a few laughs out of it, but it really adds a lot to the fun.
Believe me, they might be laughing and mocking it a bit, but that’s just because they wish they would have thought of it themselves.
You’ll also notice in this picture that many of the students around her are busily filling out their own cards. She looks like one of the smarter girls in the class, and I bet she often gets done before the others.
You can do lots of things here. If you go with the handout on the other website you can use different characters.
The one we had floating around EF (English First) had a teacher, a doctor, a nurse, a politician, a lawyer, and a priest among others.
Sometimes you can use characters they make up, or just have them be themselves. This is fun, but I’ve seen students get ganged up on.
Still, most of the time they’re laughing and having fun. It’s a really self-depreciating humor you see in this game.
Look at that poor boy! He’s in a class full of girls. I’ve had many students like this, and I’ve had many classes with all boys and one girl.
Those students always get a bit of good-natured ribbing, but they’re also some of the more resilient students as well. Don’t worry pal, your day will come.
Anyways, you can see this is a pretty exciting game for the students, and I bet you can get a good 10 minutes just explaining it.
In other words, this is perfect for longer holiday classes or for when you have nothing else and need to kill an hour.
Remember, having a folder with all the necessary printouts ready at all times is a real life saver.