Teaching Tools Tip of the Day: Dry Erase Sheets and Dry Erase Pockets

Dry erase board and markers for use in the classroom are well worth the money. It’s no secret that I love to make games for my French classes, and I am so glad I decided to invest in both dry erase boards and dry erase pockets.

You can actually buy sheets rather than boards so they weigh less and take up less space. I bought a pack of 30 sheets that are .5 cm thick here in Australia for $40 AUD (including shipping) but I’m sure they are cheaper in the US. For comparison, individual dry erase boards tend to average at least $5 each in both countries – and when you have 20 students, that’s a bit too much.

For beginning French classes, Hangman is an obvious choice for a game to practice the alphabet. Drawing activities (such as drawing a floorplan of a house from oral descriptions of locations) are a little easier to do on dry erase boards. Trivia games are fun to do if every student or team has a dry erase board, as well as Scattergories or Pictionary.

Dry erase pockets, or shop ticket holders, are also useful for playing games in class. I recently bought a set of 25 dry erase pockets for less than $20 USD from Amazon and a bunch of ReWritables Mini Dry Erase Markers – with the not so correct French translation of sec-effacez – since they come in many colors and have erasers on the caps.

Connect 4 and Guess Who/What

Connect 4 to review verb tense and Guess What to review food and colors

The dry erase pockets waste less paper since students can easily erase and start a new game. They are also handy for preventing students from quickly writing down translations when you want them to try to work from memory and speak spontaneously instead of reading their written notes. Here are some of the games you can use them for:

Guess Who/What – I’ve used the traditional Guess Who set of people for describing physical characteristics, but I also created a Guess What version for fruits and vegetables (and colors, shapes, etc.)

Connect 4 – I’ve mostly been using this game to review verb conjugations; students must say the translation in French in order to color in that spot

Tic Tac Toe – again I’ve used this mostly for verb conjugations with the tic tac toe grid including the subjects and verbs student must use, but I change which verb tense they must use every few minutes

Bingo – obvious choice for practicing letters and numbers, but could also do vocabulary with words written in English but students will hear and have to say the words in French

Battleship – can be used for letters & numbers, subjects & verbs, or even prepositional contractions (je vais, je viens, tu vas, tu viens, etc. in top row and places/cities/countries in left column so students must say complete sentence with correct preposition or contraction)

Scrabble – this can work as a smaller version of Scrabble (don’t make the squares too small to write letters in), but since my classrooms have large tables, I am able to print out this Scrabble board on size A3 paper instead


Any other games you can recommend? I am always looking for more ways to get my students speaking in every class.

AILA World Congress 2014: International Applied Linguistics Association Conference

I was in Brisbane all last week for the AILA 2014 World Congress, the largest conference for applied linguistics in the world. It is held every three years and I had just missed out on the Beijing conference in 2011 by one month when I first started my PhD. I presented my research on stylistic […]

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The end of my PhD is near, so what’s next?

I have just finished writing the last chapter of data analysis for my thesis. Now I need to write the conclusion and abstract, update my literature review, and do some final revisions then the printing and binding of four copies. Technically I have until March 2015 to submit, so if I haven’t managed to find […]

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Oslo, Bergen and fjords in Norway

Part 3 of Vacation 2014: Norway I’m not going to lie: Norway is really as expensive as everyone says it is. The exchange rate may be a tiny better than for the Swedish krone, yet you still end up spending more money. A single adult ticket on the public transportation system costs 30 NOK. That’s […]

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Celebrating Midsummer in Sweden

Part 2 of Vacation 2014: Sweden We had one day in Stockholm and two full days in Göteborg/Gothenburg where we celebrated Midsommar/Midsummer on June 20. Yes, I did dance around the maypole with my Swedish friend. Stockholm can be done in one day, but I wish we had more time there. From the ferry, we […]

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Finno-Ugric Fun: Finland and Estonia

Part 1: Finno-Ugric Fun in Finland and Estonia Vacation 2014 began and ended with conference presentations in Paris and Oslo, so naturally I also had to travel to countries I had never been to before in Europe. I decided to start in Finland before heading over to Sweden and Norway, with a day trip to […]

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Mundolingua: Museum of Languages and Linguistics in Paris

I was recently in Paris to present at a conference and I was finally able to check out Mundolingua, a museum of languages and linguistics that opened last year. It’s on Rue Servandoni in the 6th, just south of Saint Sulpice.   The first fun/nerdy thing to play with is this interactive IPA chart. Press […]

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Undeciphered Scripts: Rongorongo on Easter Island

As a new assistant editor of the Journal of New Zealand and Pacific Studies as well as a new associate curator of the Easter Island, Myths and Popular Culture international exhibition, I am exposed to a wide range of interesting topics related to the South Pacific. My latest fascination involves rongorongo, a system of glyphs […]

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Mutual Intelligibility between English and Scots

Frisian is often cited as the language that is closest to English, but Scots is actually closer (i.e. has a higher degree of mutual intelligibility with English). Not Scottish English, which is a variety of English, or Scottish Gaelic, which is actually a Celtic rather than a Germanic language, but Lowland Scots. There are just […]

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Foreign Earned Income Exclusion for Americans Living Abroad (Form 2555)

Just a reminder for Americans who have foreign income: you must declare all foreign income on US income tax returns. For most language assistants, for example, this often simply means including the assistant income on line 21 of Form 1040 as “other income.” This will increase the adjusted gross income, however, and if it is more […]

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

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