Experiences of an English Language Teacher

Episode 5: How To Teach A Grammar Auction

A few days ago, I decided for the first time ever to deliver a grammar auction activity to my group of learners. I had never done this activity before but had done variations from it: awarding points for correct answers, etc. In this blog post (and video below), I would like to share my tips to ensure that you are able to deliver a fantastic grammar auction lesson.

Before you dive straight into the grammar auction activity, I would recommend that you look at preparing your sentences. You can either create your own set of sentences or download a template. Fortunately, I have included my template to this blog post so you can use this if you wish: Grammar Auction (Template).

Once you have prepared your sentences, you can enter the classroom and put students in to pairs or small groups. I recommend putting students into islands around the classroom rather than in the standard horseshoe (or u-shape). This will ensure that learners are working together rather than listening to others.

You can then hand out the worksheet to all students that you have prepared or downloaded. Explain to students that they need to either place a tick if they believe a sentence is correct or a cross if they believe a sentence is incorrect. Should students think that a sentence is incorrect, they need to think of a suitable correction. I usually give students around 10 minutes to work through this and the whole group should all agree with each individual sentence.

After students have finished this part of the activity, I show a clip from “Only Fools and Horses” of an auction where Del Boy and Rodney are selling a watch. This clip is used to help students understand (albeit in a satirical way) the functions of an auction.

After showing the video clip, I ensure that learners are aware of an auction and that they will be bidding for sentences for the next task. I tell them all that they have only £1,000 to use to bid for individual sentences and those that win the most amount of sentences are the winners at the end of the task. I start the bidding at £10 and go up. If a group wants to shout out a price, I welcome it. Once they have made a bid, I ask them whether they believe if the sentence is correct or not.

Now the tricky bit. If the sentence is correct and the students think it is correct, then they win the sentence for their bid. However, if students think that the sentence is correct but it is incorrect, then they will forfeit the sentence to the previous group who had just lost to the sentence with this group only being able to win if they can provide a suitable correction. Say for example the first group bid £150 but lose, the second group can win the sentence for their original bid of £140 only if they are able to provide a suitable correction. Complicated, yeah? Now you realise why I hesitated for over 14 years trying to attempt this game.

It is a complicated game but with a little perseverance it can succeed and the learners can really enjoy the game. You could also hand out Monopoly money to groups so you can monitor who has spent what. I usually put the rules up on the board so all students are fully aware of what is expected. What I usually write include:

  • You have £1,000 to spend for a sentence auction
  • You cannot spend more than £1,000
  • A sentence is auctioned
  • If you think the sentence is correct, and it is correct, you win it for the price you bid
  • If you think the sentence is incorrect, and it is incorrect, you only win it for the price you bid
  • If it is incorrect, you must provide a correction to win the sentence
  • If the correction is good, you keep the sentence
  • If the correction is not good, you do not keep the sentence
  • The winner is the group with the most amount of sentences at the end

You could either hand this out during the task or project this so all students know what to do during the grammar auction game. Hopefully, the task works well but if it doesn’t, don’t worry. Think about what went wrong and how you would improve it for next time.

It can be difficult to set up but it is well worthwhile as once students know what is expected, you don’t need to invest so much time in preparing the grammar auction task again.

Many thanks and let me know in the comments if you have ever attempted the grammar auction task before or whether you have played a variation of it.

Further reading:

1 Comment

  1. Em

    Have wanted to play this for a while but I didn’t know how to set it up, this is so helpful! Thank you!!

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