Reviewing language from previous lessons is a good idea (spaced repetition being a buzzword in memory and learning). Here are some ways to review yesterday's vocabulary or grammar at the start of the lesson. 

Back to the board

This is also known as 'hot seat' and I don't know any experienced teachers who haven't done this. Split the class into teams. One student from each team sits at the front, with their back to the board. You write a word on the board behind them. Their team must define/act the word for them to guess. The first student to guess wins a point for their team. After a few words (say, 5), let the students rejoin their teams and others should take their places.

Warning: this can get very loud. If that's a problem, you could set a rule that they are only allowed to whisper.

Board race

There are lots of variations on this. The simplest is to write 15-20 words from previous lessons on the board. Split the class into two teams, standing in two lines towards the board. Give the first student in each line a different colour board pen. You define a word and the students with the pens run to the board to circle the word (their team can prompt if necessary). The first team to circle the word gets a point. Then the student at the front of the line hands the pen to the next team member, and you define another word.

5 → 0 review

Put your students in pairs, and ask them to remember and write down 5 words from the previous lesson on separate scraps of paper. You then define a word from the previous lesson (if your memory is like mine, you'll need to note these down in advance). If they have written this word, they should call it out or hold it up and then discard their word. Keep going until one team has discarded all their words (or until you've run out of words, in which case the winning team is the one with the fewest words left).


Wordle word cloud

This is just an alternative way of presenting a define-the-words game. While the original online version of Wordle is no longer supported, there are others (e.g. Word Clouds). Anyway, the idea is that you type in the vocabulary you want to review. Change the font / colours or anything else you fancy to make it pretty. Then give a copy to groups of 3-4 students. Students take it in turns to choose a word and try to explain it - the others try to guess the word from the word cloud.

There are some more Wordle teaching ideas on my Wordle Activities page.


Jumble up words from your previous lesson, and get students to unscramble them. If you are short of preparation time, you could just write them one at a time on the board. However, if you have time, it's nice to put the letters on little squares of card, then put each anagram on a different table and get students to move around the room and solve each one (they should mix the letters up again when they've solved it for the next student/team). As another variant, I also use a PowerPoint version of this (view the anagrams PowerPoint template here), which works well as a quiz show with buzzers or mini-whiteboards.