Tag Mix is a straightforward way to practice question tags with your class. It is all about having students identify the two parts of the sentence (the statement and the tag) and then mixing and matching them.
As an activity it works best with intermediate and above students; the level can go up as you can make it more inventive for more advanced students.
Quite simply collect a list of basic question tag sentences and for each one prepare two cards: the statement and the tag:
Statement Card – Tag Card
You’re going – aren’t you?
It’s raining – isn’t it?
They’re arriving at six – aren’t they?
And so on. You need to get at least 2 or 3 per student. Ideally you should put these on laminated flashcards so you can use them later with other classes.
You may well find that a tag card can be used with more than one statement card, but that doesn’t matter.
In class go over question tags and make sure the class understand how they’re formed and used. Then, take a statement card at random and invite suggestions as to what the question tag will be. Once the class is familiar with this, take a tag card and see if the class can’t come up with ideas for the statement that goes with it.
The idea here is that the class get used to the idea of forming question tags.
Running the Activity
There are several ways in which the cards can be used. One simple way is to get the class into small groups and then deal out to each group – face down – 5 statement cards and 5 tag cards.
On your command they turn the cards over and try to make up 5 good, grammatically correct question tag sentences. The chances are they won’t be able to do this, which is when they’re allowed to start swapping cards with other teams.
If a team gets 5 sentences then they win. But if, as is likely, no team can manage it you can stop the game after 10 minutes or so and see who has the most sentences.
Variations on a Theme
- With smaller classes, and if you can organize this in your classroom, you can add a “memory game” activity to the end. Get 10 or so good sentences and mix them all up (i.e. separate statement and tag) and then spread them out on a large desk. Give the students 5 minutes to memorize what they see and then turn all of the cards face down. Students take it in turns to come up and turn over 2 cards. If they match they get to score a point for their team (or as an individual) and the sentence is taken away from the mix to be replaced by 2 more cards.
- With advanced classes you can use the tag part to play with creating more and more outrageous and inventive sentence. See who can come up with the best, most imaginative, idea!