One for all, all for one - collaborative games in ELT

How much have my students learned?
Have they learned at all?
Have they learned what I wanted them to learn?
Have I included meaningful activities?
Have I done enough to keep the students motivated and interested?
Has everybody been involved adequately and equally?
Have my students collaborated to achieve their goals?

These are some of the burning questions I ask myself every day after the lesson. Of course, I feel happiest when all my students are interested, motivated and engaged. I like to see that they have learned and collaborated. I'd like to share two activities that have proved useful, especially in regard to the last four questions above; they are motivatingmeaningful, they help to keep all the students engaged, and they promote collaboration. I should stress that their magic lies more in perfect classroom management than in the content itself.

1) One of my most favourite activities that I have piloted with students of all levels of proficiency is the 'describe and guess' type activity. It is very popular in its spoken form, but I sometimes include its written alternative too.

2) This game is very popular with my students. It's useful for practising or revising vocabulary, but it's also a very effective speaking activity.

In both activities, each student is doing something meaningful at each point (this is the engaging aspect of the game). Everybody must work efficiently not to hinder somebody's success or waste somebody's time during the activity. All the students play as individuals, but they are also dependent on their peers. This adds a new, collaborative, dimension to the games ... one for all, all for one.