It’s been a long time since I discovered the benefits of the Half a Crossword activity. I first came across the idea in the Teacher’s Bank of the coursebook I was using. In case you don’t know what I mean, it’s an information gap type of activity where students get half a crossword each, split evenly between two students working in a pair. They have to ask each other for missing information and define the words in their crossword.
When I first tried it, I immediately fell in love with its simplicity and effectiveness. However, I’d never thought of creating my own half crosswords – I knew it would be far from simple.
Luckily, the other day, I read a post on Mura Nava’s blog where I learned about Half a Crossword creator, which makes it possible for me to create half crossword handouts in a matter of minutes. The author of this fantastic tool is Wiktor Jakubczyc.
It’s amazingly simple; in the word box on the left, you type in the words you want in the crosswords and everything else looks after itself.
When I was creating the handouts, I wasn’t sure how many words each one should contain. So I typed in 15 words altogether (which was actually by mistake; I had obviously intended to have an even number of items). Although it didn’t seem a lot at first sight, in today’s lesson, it turned out that 14, i.e 7 and 7, is actually a perfect number for a nice 15-20 minute speaking activity.
I’m a fan of speaking activities based on word prompts but this one is one of my favorites. It’s not exactly a no-prep activity but it really takes next to no time to create. And it’s worth the effort. Based on my experience, it’s a great way to revise and recycle vocabulary, especially items your students are not 100% sure of. Although I mainly used words I thought my students were familiar with, some kept peeking at their word lists to double-check the meanings, which, by the way, I had allowed and encouraged.