Tricky Language Structures? FUN is the key!

The Battle Of Wits!

As a teacher, I often wonder how I can help English learners become more confident when using certain language forms. There are plenty of ways, to name but a few, making a classroom wall poster, pointing out the correct forms, organizing a mistakes’ detector activity, etc. Still, some language forms are quite labyrinthine. But we must not give in! Practice makes perfect, right?

If you want to master, once and for all, certain English language bits, and never again to make the same mistakes, grab this opportunity and ask your English language buddy to join you. In order to tame some complicated language structures, today we’re going to have much fun.

It’s Battleship time!

This game is the number one win-win method. It is a great approach whose goal is to reduce the amount of TTT (teacher talking time) and increase STT (student-talking time), thus allowing English learners to learn and remember from speaking. The battleship ESL game focuses solely on one specific language structure. Due to the fact that learners repeatedly use the same form, again and again, this sticks in their memory, and they will hardly make certain mistakes again.

I’ve created four Cambridge level-battleship activities. The language structures which I’ve chosen are the ones I find pretty complicated for learners to tame. Besides, to go beyond a mere drilling, there is more than one structure to practise, though the function or the skill is the same. For instance, the A2 battleship activity focuses on one skill –  asking and answering Yes/No questions, however, there are three structures to use – past simple, present simple and future simple.

Without any more delay, let’s start the game. Choose the level you need, download and print its PDF. Follow the instructions above the main grid. Some expressions that you will need throughout the play are:

  • It’s a hit!
  • It’s a miss!
  • You sank my battleship / submarine / cruiser!

A2 Flyers


  • To ask Yes/No questions in present, past and future simple.

E.g. “Did your friend go skiing last year?” / “Do you always play chess?”  / “Will your uncle go to London next summer?”

  • To give short Yes/No answers.

E.g. “Yes, he did.” / “No, I don’t.” / “Yes, he will.”

Be careful with the adverbs of time. They show us which tense to use, don’t they?

B1 Preliminary


  • To give opinions using various expressions, and to ask someone’s opinion.

E.g. “I reckon we spend too much money on presents. Do you agree?”

  • To express agreement or disagreement, and to explain why.

E.g. “I’m not sure about it, because there are things to suit every pocket.”

Be careful! We say “I agree with you“, not “I’m agree with you

B2 First


  • To use gerunds after certain phrases, such as be used to, feel like, look forward to, be worth.

E.g. “Are you used to saving up?”

  • To answer the questions and to develop the answers.

E.g. “Yes, I am. I’ve been saving up for about five years.”

  • To use four phrasal verbs in context.

Remember! The phrase “I’m looking forward to (hearing from you.)” should be used when ending off a letter or an email to an English-speaking friend in the B2 Writing paper, Part 2. Besides, all these phrases are just the ticket in the B2 First Speaking paper, when you must interact with your Speaking partner.

C1 Advanced


  • To use inversion correctly after certain adverbs and adverbial phrases with a negative or restrictive meaning, such as never, hardly ever, little, on no account.

E.g. “Never again will I put my books away, what about you?”

  • To react to what is said and to shortly develop your answer.


“Won’t you? I will. I need to recharge my batteries.” (disagree if it’s a MISS), or

“Me neither. Having failed my last exam was a good lesson for me.” (agree if it’s a HIT)

Remember! There are many more phrases after which we use inversion. Among them are:

  1. Certain phrases with not: not since, not until, not only
  2. Certain phrases with only: only when, only then
  3. Certain phrases with no: on no account, under no circumstances, in no way, at no time
  4. Certain frequency adverbs: rarely, seldom
  5. Certain adverbs: Barely/Scarcely … when …, and No sooner … than … .MISS

Nothing can beat the effectiveness of an ESL game when there is an element of entertainment and competitiveness. The Battleship game has got all we need. Hard language structures will no longer be a nightmare! Just remember, first work hard (read through the theory and use it in various exercises), and then, play hard!

Stay tuned for more words of advice and handy material!

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