ESL Factory Task

This is a team building exercise that works well for an ESL classroom. It gets students to work together, and it creates a good discussion.

Students are put into teams of about 3-6. These teams pretend to run a factory. The purpose of the game is to be the most successful factory.

What the factories make is entirely up to the teacher. I like a simple activity of making houses out of cards. They place three cards on their edges to make the shape of a capital I. Think of it as the beginning of a card house. 

I have also seen it with making boats out of paper, or other paper folding activities. I have also used blocks and called them towers. Essentially, the product needs to be something a little bit difficult to make, but something that eventually everyone can do.

Taking my example of card houses:
  • Start the teams off with a bankroll of $50 - $100.
  • There are 3 rounds of 1, 2, and 3 minutes.
  • Each round, the students work in teams to make as many houses as possible.
  • At the end of the round, I pay them $5 for each house they have built. (hypothetically of course)
Now the part that makes them think and discuss:
  • Each card costs them $1. Therefore, they make a $2 profit for each house. However, they can’t return the cards they didn’t use. So, they need to discuss at the beginning of the round how many cards they think they should buy from me, the supplier.
An example:
Group 1 buys 27 cards, thinking they will make 9 houses. That costs them $27. I take $27 away from their initial $50 for a total of $23. After 2 minutes they have made 7 houses. I pay them 7 X $5 = $35. They made a profit of $8. They now have a total of $58. Then they discuss how many cards they want for round two, which has a different time.
There are many variations to this game that simply take a little creativity from the teacher. Some include:
  • Making them pay for table space (ie factories)
  • Making them pay wages per each round. (Each team member might not be able to build)
  • Raising and lowering costs and prices
I really like this game for something a little fun, and a break from the ESL focused games. It is also wonderful for team building.

More advanced students can learn about words like profit margin, supplier, etc.

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