Islamic Banking Crossword Puzzle

I have to point out that a lot of the credit for this type of exercise goes to a colleague of mine. It was her idea to develop crossword puzzle clues in the form of ‘Fill in the Blank’ rather than the conventional way. My colleague’s name is Mrs. Syrha Goveas and she is one of our most outstanding and dedicated Business English teachers.

DESIGNER: Sajida Tabbara                                         
HOME SCHOOL: University of Bahrain
HOST UNIVERSITY: University of South Carolina
CONTACT INFORMATION (Optional): stabbara@batelco.com.bh, rainbow@arts.uob.bh, Tel. 00973-17-626398

Activity Specifics
PROFICIENCY LEVEL: Lower/Mid Intermediate
TARGET AGE: 18-19 years (male and female students)
FOCUS: Inference using contextual clues
THEME: Islamic Banking
TIME REQUIRED: 20 minutes

The aim of this activity is two-fold:
1. Revise and practice a number of vocabulary items presented in a previous lesson, and,
2. Reinforce the importance of using contextual clues to guess the correct answer.


1. Crossword puzzle (worksheet 2)
2. Contextualized clues (A set of sentences with blanks that have to be filled with words that can be inferred using contextual clues)
3. OHP
4. Transparency of crossword puzzle



The crossword puzzle submitted here needs to be seen in context in order to be fully appreciated. My Business English course students are in the process of reading a unit on Islamic Banking that appears in an in-house compiled collection of authentic texts on business-related topics. The unit discusses and explains the basic rules of Islamic banking and how it differs from conventional banking.  Following is a description of the activities that lead to the crossword puzzle

Preparation (10 minutes)
The class is divided into groups of 5-6 students each. They are given two questions to discuss, the purpose of which is to prepare them for the topic at hand, namely; Islamic and conventional banking. They have to discuss and write down four services offered by banks and two differences between Islamic and conventional banking. This takes 5 minutes. Then, the groups share their answers to compile a longer list under each heading. This takes 5 minutes as well.

General idea-Skimming (10-15 minutes)
The next step is to open the books and skim through the text. The attention of the students is drawn to the fact that the rules of Islamic banking are presented as headings of the last five paragraphs. This is done by getting the Ss to explore the text and the paragraphs by themselves. Once they are aware of this, they are encouraged to skim through the five rules without worrying too much about detail and to discuss them with each other in their groups. Then, this information is shared with the rest of the class.
This takes 10-15 minutes.

Presentation of vocabulary – Inference (20-25 minutes)
A list of the main vocabulary items is then given to the students (see worksheet 1) and they are asked to work out their meanings in groups. As can be seen from the list, the items are presented chronologically (as they appear in the text) and the paragraph numbers are given as well. The students are told to find the words in question and note the line number where each one appears. The purpose of this is to ensure that they read the words (at least the ones they do not know!) in context before they attempt to guess what they mean. As the list is a long one (a total of 34 items), and as vocabulary work can be very boring, I decided to (a) give the meaning of some of the words (particularly those that appear in a context that does not facilitate inference) (b) point out the ones that were covered in previous units using an asterisk, and, (c) limit the number of the words they have to infer to 14 (this list consists of the vocabulary items that appear in a textual context that enables the Ss to infer their meaning).

I did this worksheet with my students today and it was very successful. I usually measure success by the degree of involvement and the fact that today, they continued to work through the list while discussing the words with each other and referring to previous units even though the lesson was over. This is a real achievement, especially if you have a lunch time class, particularly during Ramadan!!

Reading Comprehension (time frame varies from one class to another)
A number of exercises follow such as multiple choice, True and False, Reference and so on. Those appear in the book and they are all aimed at checking comprehension. I tend to favour doing this work collaboratively in groups. I like group work for all the reasons mentioned in the literature in addition to the fact that it allows the students to digress occasionally, thus offering them a short break from routine work when they need it. Close monitoring of group work ensures that they do not stray too far away from the lesson!


The crossword puzzle (see worksheet 2) can be used at any point after the vocabulary work mentioned above in the presentation stage had been completed. It can be done in the following lesson, during the reading comprehension work to introduce a variety of activities or after it as some kind of revision. I have, on occasion, even used a crossword as a quiz or a diagnostic self-test for students to find out the items with which they have difficulties.  

Note that the puzzle does not include all the new vocabulary items of the lesson. Those covered in previous lessons are excluded. Those that do not appear in the puzzle are used for a word search puzzle (see worksheet 3) which is used as time/gap filler when one group completes the work before the other groups do. This ensures that all new items are recycled one way or another. The Ss enjoy the crosswords and the word searches and look forward to them.

My crosswords vary in type. For example, I have prepared VERB crosswords for lessons that contain a lot of new verbs. The clues, in this case, are conventional rather than ‘Fill in the Blank’ type. Sense relations and collocations can also be used a basis for developing crosswords or word searches. I come up with different ideas depending on the topic, the reading passages, items covered and how a creative I feel at the time!


Answers are checked in class using an OHP transparency. Ss correct their work and score it themselves. If the puzzle is given as homework, the solution is posted outside my door for them to check their answers.

In either case, problem items are discussed and explained once again. Additional work is set if, and when necessary


Worksheet 1 ‘Islamic Banking’ vocabulary list
Worksheet 2 ‘Islamic Banking’ crossword puzzle
Worksheet 3 ‘Islamic Banking’ word search