20 to 25 min
A paired game activity that focuses on speaking and listening comprehension.
Here is how Wikipedia.org defines Battleship:
Battleship (also Battleships or Sea Battle) is a guessing game for two players. It is known worldwide as a pencil and paper game which dates from World War I. It was published by various companies as a pad-and-pencil game in the 1930s, and was released as a plastic board game by Milton Bradley in 1967.
Senkan is the Japanese word for battleship. The basic premise for ESL Senkan is that A1, B5 and D10 are replaced with parts of the target sentences and grammar point for the lesson. I happened to use this unit 3 of the New Horizon book, Have you ever…?
Purpose: To get the students to use the target sentences repeatedly as well as practice listening comprehension.
Secondary Purpose: Have fun because games are awesome, oh and reading. Reading is good too.
I have done this activity with 12 classes, with both second and third year students. I find that walking around and making explosion noises when students boats are “hit” makes them have a little more fun with game. Some students cheat and just show eachother their paper. Also be prepared to extend that activity as some students will win very quickly and start creating distractions or sleep. Battleship can fall somewhere between moderately successful to really fun depending on the class. The only way to test to see if it was really successful is to end the class with a verbal check or do a verbal check the next class period.
Prep: Print out the attached worksheet, head over to the numerous links on my page or via Google for already made versions of Battleship or make your own. Prep the blackboard with an example of how to draw the boats and how to mark. This is important because the game should be explained entirely in English.
Execution: Pass out the Senkan worksheet and have the students place their boats. I have to make sure that I show that boats cannot go diagonal or intersect via examples on the board. I also go over all the target sentences using read and repeat. The JTE and I work together and play a few turns marking our boats on the board.
Next have the students work with a reading partner and turn their desks toward each other. I was lucky with an odd numbered class a couple times so I got to play as well.
As mentioned before it is important to have some ways to extend this activity. I instruct the class that the 4 square boat is the Senkan. When your Senkan is sunk, that is end of the game. They raise their hands to let me know that they have finished and then I ask them to search for the 1 square boat. I call this boat, “Admiral’s Boat.” This is far more challenging and will usually distract a finished pair for the better part of the activity. Also be on the lookout for students who finish quickly and just show eachother their board and for students who don’t mark their own boats when they are hit.
A final thought: The target sentences from a junior high textbook are really boring and often times maybe a little unrelatable for a junior high age kid. I think if you make your own or adapt mine try to make the sentences as funny or silly as possible. Silliness is probably the easiest way to distract your kids from the fact that they are still using the appropriate grammar and using it correctly. “Have you ever,” “Would you like to,” and “I want to be,” are great fertilizer for funny sentences in the classroom. Obviously there must be some restraint because you don’t want to teach them complete non-sense either.