Revision, also known as review – my colleagues across the Big Pond in England use the term, “revision” – is tricky in a foreign language class. While the students are in constant need of regular review and practice of previously-learned vocabulary and grammar structures, it can get pretty boring.

Therefore, I am always on the lookout for ways of making the old seem new.

Today included an additional wrinkle: The day before a two-week vacation.

So, following review of the homework, we did some review of previously-learned material. One of the activities we did, in fact, was collected from a website based in the UK called, Teachers TV. The activity is called, “Pass the Envelope.” It is something along the order of musical chairs. Students pass an envelope containing whatever it is the teacher wants to review, while music plays in the background. To infuse some culture into the activity, I used a song by a group based in Puerto Rico. Today, we reviewed the preterite tense. The envelope contained sentences, in English, which the students had to translate into Spanish, using the correct form of the correct verb in the preterite. The students pass the envelope until the music stops. Whoever is holding the envelope when the music stops opens the envelope, pulls out a sentence strip, reads the sentence, and then translates it into Spanish.

The students seemed to enjoy it, and gained valuable review in the process. Additionally, it was the first time I used “Pass the Envelope”, even though I created the activity about a year ago, but never used it.

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