Teaching large classes


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Teaching large classes

  1. 1. Teaching Large ClassesMost teachers agree that teaching a small group of students is easier, more enjoyable, and lesstime consuming than teaching a large group. Unfortunately, due to budgets, space, or lack ofteachers, many ESL schools only offer large classes. In some schools, large classes may consistof up to 50 or more students. While your class may look more like a University lecture hall, yourjob is not to lecture. Just like teaching a small class, you must come up with engaging activitiesthat keep all of your students interested and participating with the goal of improving theircommunication skills. While there are numerous challenges when it comes to teaching largeclasses, there are many coping skills and activities that you can use to make your job easier.Advantages of Teaching Large Classes High Energy: Classes with many students may be noisy, but they are also fun and exciting. Timing: Classes go by quickly in a large class, and you will rarely catch yourself looking at the clock. You will regularly find yourself with extra activities that you did not complete that you can save and use in your next class. Participation: There is always someone who is willing to answer questions even if they are just guessing. Make sure to take answers from a variety of students. Fillers: Teachers have less need for fillers since core activities and lessons take longer to complete.Challenges of Teaching Large Classes Intimacy: Remembering students names can take a while. Teachers may feel that they do not get to know their students as well as they would like to. Anxiety: Some teachers feel anxious being so outnumbered by the students. In addition, some students are afraid to ask questions or participate in a large class. Student needs: Meeting individual needs can be difficult or impossible when class size is very large. Marking: Grading assignments and tests can be very time consuming, and your pay will generally be the same for a smaller class. Distractions: There are more distractions for teachers in large classes, such as latecomers and people chatting while you are teaching. Preparation: Making photocopies for a large class can be very time consuming. Other teachers may be bothered by how much time you spend using the photocopier. Noise level: Large classes can become out of hand when students are working in pairs or groups. At times you may feel more like a disciplinarian than a teacher. Monitoring students: Teachers may find it difficult to keep students on task as they monitor pair and group work. Space: There is limited space in a classroom for energetic activities such as role-playing. Textbooks and resources: There may not be enough textbooks or computers available for all students.Strategies for Coping with Large Classes Use a teachers notebook: Attach a small notebook and pen to your belt loop. Take notes while you are monitoring pair or group learning. Review common errors as a whole group after an activity is complete.
  2. 2. Spread out: Find another space that your class can use for energetic whole group activities. Find a lobby or spare classroom in the building that your students can spread out into when they are preparing a project or performance. Take students outside if there is no indoor space available. Create a participation grade: Make homework and attendance count by doing regular checks and making it part of their final grade. Giving a daily exam tip also encourages attendance. Encourage competition: Establish a fun and competitive atmosphere within the class, by dividing the class into teams. You may change the teams once in a while or leave them the same throughout a semester. Teams can win points for certain accomplishments (If noise and behaviour is a problem, students can lose points too.). Relax: Find ways to relax before class so that you dont feel anxious. Never attempt to prepare a lesson in the morning, right before class. Always have a water bottle handy. Always have an extra activity on hand in case something doesnt go as you expect it to. Establish trust: Learn unique ways to remember names and do your best to get to know something about each of your students. Create a seating chart on the first day and ask students to stick with it for a while. Tell your students at least one or two things about yourself beyond your role of teaching. Manage the noise: Establish a signal that you want your class to stop what they are doing and listen. This should be done from the first day, so that students become accustomed to it right away. Be careful not to use gestures or sounds that would offend anyone. Reduce marking and preparation time: Design quizzes and tests in a way so that you can reduce the amount of marking. Use peer evaluations when possible. If students submit journals, just read them and leave a short comment and/or suggestion, rather than fixing every grammar mistake. Designate a specific time when the teachers room is slow to do most of your photocopying for the week. This will save you from feeling guilty for taking up the photocopier for a long time when another teacher only has a few copies to make. Enforce a late policy: Notify students of your late policy on the first day and stick to it. For example, dont let students enter your classroom after a warm-up has ended. If students miss class, make it their responsibility to catch up, not yours. Share your e-mail address: In a large class, you will find yourself feeling drained before and after class if you let students come early or stay late to ask questions every day. This alone can make you hate your job, especially if you are not paid for hours when you are not teaching. Encourage students to e-mail you with questions, and answer them on your own time. If you dont like the e-mail suggestion, try finishing your class ten minutes early once in a while and allow your students free conversation time. Take questions on a first come basis during this time.Activities to use in Large Classes Small group discussions: Use topics related to a theme, or ask students to submit topic suggestions. Who Am I?: Tape the name of a famous person to the back of each student. Students go around the room asking questions and trying to identify themselves. Once they guess who they are they can place their nametag on the front and continue helping other students identify themselves. Team spelling contests: Each student who gets the spelling correct gets a point for their team.
  3. 3. Balderdash: Large class can be split into teams. Teacher calls out a word and students have to write down the part of speech and definition. Each student to get both correct gets a point for her team. Write the question: Large class can be split into teams. The teacher calls out an answer and the students have to write the question. (ex. "Lynn") Each student to write the correct question gets a point. (ex. answer: Whats your middle name?") Questionnaires: Students circulate around the room asking each other questions. Students can create their own questions on a given topic or theme, or you can provide the questionnaire handout. Follow up by asking each student to report the most interesting answer they received. Categories: The teacher calls out a category, such as fruit, and each student has to name a fruit when it is his turn. If a student hesitates for more than five seconds, he or she has to choose a new category and sit out the rest of the game. The last person to get out wins.Teaching Small ClassesMost teachers would agree that teaching a small class comes with many benefits. Teachers canoffer one-on-one assistance at times and are more likely to meet the individual needs of theirstudents. Some teachers, however, find it quite challenging to keep their students interested andexcited about learning in a small class. Depending on the location you are teaching in, smallclasses range from about three to seven students. In countries where large classes are the norm,classes of twenty may still be considered small. There are numerous coping strategies andactivities that teachers can use to deal with the challenges of timing and student engagement.Advantages of Teaching Small Classes Comfort: Teachers and students often feel more comfortable when the class size is smaller. Students generally feel more comfortable voicing their questions and opinions.
  4. 4. Students needs met: Teachers can design customized lessons to meet the needs and interests of all of the class members. Student centred: Teaching is student centred and often more communicative than is possible in large classes. Students also have more opportunity to speak. Space: Students have plenty of space to move around in the classroom. Teachers can also arrange excursions (or suggest spontaneous ones) outside of the classroom where students can be exposed to real world English. Attendance: Class attendance is usually high because students know they will be missed if they are absent. They also feel like they belong to the group. Tasks Completed: Assignments and homework are more likely to be completed because the teacher is more likely to check. Preparation time: Less preparation time is required for photocopying. There are generally enough textbooks to go around so photocopying is limited to extra activities. Detailed Feedback: Teachers have time to provide detailed feedback when marking assignments and tests, so students get a better sense of how they are improving and where they need to work harder. Teachers also have more time to answer questions before, during, and after classChallenges of Teaching Small Classes Timing: Activities finish quickly, so teachers may need to prepare more lessons and games. Distractions: Pairs can get distracted easily since they can hear what each other are saying. Attendance: If a few students do miss a class, planned lessons can occasionally flop. For example, you may plan a lesson that requires pair work, and then find that only three of your six students come to class. Fillers: Teachers must always have plenty of fillers on hand for times when lessons or activities get completed quickly. Boredom: Students may become bored working with the same pairs or groupings all of the time. There may also be less energy in the room in a small class. Anxiety: While you will likely feel more comfortable teaching in a small class, shy students who are used to blending into a large class may be uncomfortable participating. You will have to take special measures to help them gain confidence. Activities not always suitable: Some activities in textbooks, such as debates or role- playing, may not be possible if a class is very small. You will have to spend some preparation time adapting textbook activities.Strategies for Coping with Small Classes Fillers: Always have plenty of fillers (such as puzzles and games) ready in case activities finish quickly. Keep a list of games or warm ups on hand to use when energy gets low. Some may need to be adapted slightly if the class is very small. Review often: Take the time to make sure that your students understand the lessons and material. Encourage confidence: Help shy students to feel more comfortable by trying not to put them on the spot. Let them get comfortable with you and their classmates before you start calling on them to speak up more. Remember to praise them often and save criticism for private interviews. Change the dynamics: Invite students from other classes in once in a while. Prearrange pair group and getting to know you activities with other teachers who have small classes.
  5. 5. If you have high level students pair them with lower level students and give them the opportunity to teach. Ask for feedback: Take time to find out whether or not students are happy with the class. Ask for suggestions regarding activities they want to do or skills they would like to improve. Put a question box or envelope out so that students can remain anonymous if they want to.Activities to use in Small Classes Use English newspapers: Ask students to bring in a daily paper. Assign one story to each student to read and present. See the Guide for Teachers on how to use English Clubs Monthly News Digest in the classroom. Use music in the classroom: Have students listen to English songs. Use cloze exercises and teach vocabulary and idioms. Storytelling: Have students tell stories from their own cultures or childhoods. It is fun to take students to a new location to do this, such as a park or a coffee shop. Chain writing: Each student writes one sentence on a piece of paper and then passes it on until each story is complete. Role-playing: Give students lots of opportunity to use the language they are learning in mock-style everyday settings. Board games: Small groups are great for playing board games such as Word Up. Card games are a great way for students to practice asking questions. Make sure that they speak in English rather than speaking with gestures or in their own native language. Online lessons: Besides our own Learning Center, English Club offers many links to other online sites. Small classes can make use of computer labs easily. If your class does not have a computer lab, take students to the local library regularly to introduce them to the online learning sites. Films: There are numerous lessons online for incorporating film into your class lessons. This can be done at all levels with great success, especially in a small class. Stop the film often in order to check comprehension and keep students focused. Class Excursions: Take advantage of the class size, by getting out of the school as often as possible. Exposing your students to real English outside of the classroom is one of the most important things you can do if they are visiting from foreign countries. Guest speakers: Invite people into your classroom to speak or participate in a lesson. This can be other students who have a special interest or understanding about a topic you are working with, or other people from the community who would be willing to come into your class. Your students will appreciate a new face from time to time in a class that has limited numbers.
  6. 6. Teaching Multi-Level ClassesWhat is a Multi-level ESL class?Multi-level classrooms are as varied as the students in them. Most often, they include studentswho communicate in English at a variety of different levels. They may also be considered multi-level because they include students with different types of learning backgrounds, such as thosewho have learned orally and those who have learned mainly from a textbook. Students may alsohave different levels of literacy in their own native language. A classroom that contains somestudents who are familiar with the Roman alphabet and some students who are not may also beconsidered multi-level. Finally, the term multi-level can be used to refer to a group of studentsworking together who range greatly in age.Advantages and Challenges of Teaching Multi-level ClassesWhen faced with the challenge of a multi-level classroom many teachers do not know where tostart. They fear that the preparation will take much longer, and that the students will be moredemanding. Schools that have multi-level classes often have limited budgets, and teachers mayfear that they will not be paid for what they are worth. However, it is only by looking at theadvantages of the multi-level classroom and employing strategies to overcome the challenges,that teachers can achieve success.Advantages of Multi-level classrooms Students are able to learn at their own pace Students learn to work well in a group Students become independent learners Students develop strong relationships with their peers Students become partners in learningChallenges of Multi-level classrooms
  7. 7. Finding appropriate teaching resources and material Organizing appropriate groupings within the class Building an effective self-access centre in the classroom Determining the individual needs of each student Ensuring that all students are challenged and interested Enforcing English only policies when teacher is occupied and students are working in small groups or pairsDetermining the Needs of your StudentsOne of the first things you should do when assigned to a multi-level classroom is determine theneeds of the individual members. If possible, this should be done before the first class.There are a variety of ways to conduct needs assessment, depending on the size of the class, andyour access to an office and a computer. Many schools use a standardized test for new students.While this may help teachers determine the language level of the students in the multi-levelclass, standardized tests cannot determine the personal needs of the individual students. Forsmall classes it is useful to invite students into the office for a quick chat to determine what yourstudents objectives are (ex. improving writing skills, learning conversational English,understanding of rules and grammar). Students may not know the answer to this, so it is a goodidea to create a list that they can pick from. You may give the option of picking a primary and asecondary reason. Here are some examples that could be placed in a list for students to choosefrom: To improve my speaking skills To get into college To use for travelling To become a future teacher To learn the rules of grammar To please my parents Other__________You should also use this time to explain to your student that there will be other students withdifferent levels of English in the class and that you will be using partnering and groupingexercises and activities in order to meet the needs of everyone. If you dont have access to anoffice or classroom or you have a large class, you may want to e-mail the question to yourstudents, or have short telephone conversations with them. When none of these options arepossible, you can always set aside your first class as an intake day. If possible, stagger the starttimes of your students by five minutes so that you can speak to each one individually.Brainstorming in a group may also work if you have a small enough class. In a circle on theboard place the words, "I need English to/for..." and ask students to volunteer their answers.Make sure to record the needs and level of each of your students in a simple way. Keep a chartfor yourself, and alter it as your students needs change. Make a conscious effort to monitor theneeds of your individual students regularly. You may find that some students feel uncomfortableacting as a peer tutor, while others feel that they are focusing too much on a skill that they willnever use in the real world.Student From Level Special needsJulio Mexico Low- Will be working with tourists in his job as a golf
  8. 8. City intermediate instructor. Wants to learn conversational English. Doesnt require writing skills. Wants to teach English to school aged children for a living. Has studied in English in Japan for 10 years. WantsNaoko Japan Advanced to work with native English teacher. Poor pronunciation. (Eager to help as peer tutor.)Glossary of Terms cross-ability learners: Pairs or groups of students working together with varying degrees of ability or competence. More advanced learners can gain confidence and improve competence by helping and teaching lower level peers. groupings: Different ways of putting students together (based on things such as cross- ability, like-ability, special needs, compatibility). like-ability learners: Pairs or groups of students working together who share similar levels of ability or competence. multi-level class: Group of students who learn and study together in one room, despite having varying levels of abilities and/or literacy backgrounds. self access materials: Learning resources (ex. listening exercises, readers) that include instructions and answers, and are available for a student to use independently. Students in multi-level classrooms often finish small group or individual assignments and activities at different times, so it is important to have self-access materials available at all times to keep students engaged in learning. small group activity: An exercise or game in which a small group of students can participate in and learn from. Groups can be composed in many different ways (common interest, common levels, varying levels) and changed often. whole group activity: An exercise or game in which all students can participate in and learn from, regardless of their competence level and language ability.Selecting MaterialsFinding a core textbook for your class may help you if you have a number of students who are ata similar level of English. You may find that you need more than one level of the same textbookseries. If you require more than two levels, however, using a core textbook may only make yourlife more complicated, and multi-level textbooks are difficult to come by. Another option is touse a theme based approach. Keeping all of your students working on activities and lessonsbased on the same theme is a great way of maintaining a class-like atmosphere in a multilevelclassroom. Not only will this help your students feel like they all belong in the group, it will saveyou prep time and make you feel more organized. Follow up activities, such as games anddiscussions can then be based on the theme. English Club has collected a wide range of themebased lessons to save time for teachers.Suggested Activities Whole group Warm-up: Starting your class with a whole-group warm-up is a great way to foster a sense of community in your multi-level class. Information gap exercises: Works great for cross-ability and like-ability pairs.
  9. 9. Crossword puzzles: Works well for cross-ability pairs or small groups. Despite their English vocabulary levels, each student will bring a wide variety of knowledge to the group to help fill in the puzzle. Self-Access Materials: Make sure everything is well labelled and organized. The materials should reflect the needs and interests of the students in your class. Self-Access materials can be intimidating for students if you just have a shelf full of textbooks. It is best to photocopy many copies of worksheets and exercises. If you have students who are preparing for something such as the TOEIC test, have a file marked TOEIC Practice sheets. If your students need to improve their listening skills, have an audio shelf with an easy-to-use CD/tape player and level appropriate resources (CDs and worksheets). Rather than having guided readers, it is better to have photocopies of stories or articles with corresponding tasks (such as writing activities) stapled right to the readings. Board games, such as Word Up (comes with question cards for 5 different levels), should be viewed as an essential tool in every multi-level classroom. Folktales: It is easy to find different levels of common folk or fairytales. These work well in childrens classes, and there are even some that are appropriate for adults. If you have difficulty finding a folktale that is a suitable level, you can always rewrite one yourself and use it again and again when you teach. A local childrens librarian should be able to direct you to resources that you need. The follow up activities for folktales are unlimited, but include comprehension questions, group discussions, vocabulary activities, creative writing exercise, and role-playing, all of which can be done in various groupings. Art and images: Visual stimuli can be a great teaching tool. Use paintings as the basis for class discussions, writing assignments, and vocabulary building. Students of all different levels can participate together by describing photographs. Encourage students to bring in their own pictures and art and find ways to build lessons around them. One great pair activity that acts as a listening and speaking activity is to put students in pairs and have one of them describe a picture while the other tries to draw it. This can also be done as a whole group. Your students can choose a photo and describe it to you or another student who will try to reproduce it on the board. Computer lab assignments: If your school has a computer lab for students to use, or if you have a computer in your classroom, allow pairs to do online English lessons with English Clubs Learning Centre. Jot down the URLs of any lessons you think will be useful, or give your students free time to explore the site.Teaching Method StrategiesExperiment with different types of groupings to find the ones that work best.You may find that cross-ability pairs work best for certain types of activities, while like-abilitysmall groups work better for others. If possible, use a wide variety of groupings to keep thingsinteresting for your class.Use a simple schedule that is similar each day.Here is an example: 1. Start with a warm-up that involves the whole group. 2. Break part of the class off into one type of grouping (i.e. pairs) and work with part of the class on a lesson, grammar point, or activity. 3. Break off the class into another type of grouping (i.e. small groups) and have the other students use self-access materials. 4. Bring the class back together for a whole group activity/game.
  10. 10. Isolate students within the class who are interested in peer tutoring.This doesnt have to be the student with the highest level of English. Your students who fallsomewhere in the middle may in fact be the most valuable to you, as they strive to attain a levelof competency comparable to the most advanced students. Remind your students that the bestway to practice and improve a new language is to teach it to someone else.Consider enlisting a volunteer.Limited budgets or low enrolment are often the reasons behind multi-level classes. For thisreason, it may be difficult to convince administrators or managers that you need a paid assistant.If you feel overwhelmed, consider hiring a volunteer. Finding someone who is interested inhelping you with your preparation work and teaching may not be as difficult as you think. Mostnative English students who are going into the teaching profession will be more than willing toput in volunteer teaching hours in exchange for a reference. Once you have permission from yoursupervisor, you can post an ad at the local library or college, or at a teacher training centre. Youmay even want to suggest placing an ad on the website for the school you work at.
  11. 11. Beat The TeacherObjective: lesson revisionIf you tutor a student one on one then this game is perfect for revision of your previous lessons,as well as finding out how much the student may already know. Its a form of Naughts andCrosses or as the Americans would call it - Tick Tack Toe.Before your lesson write down as many questions that you can think of to ask your student andnumber them 1 to whatever. 1. What is the simple past tense word for Run? 2. What is an Abstract noun? 3. etc...Ask your student to draw the nine squared naughts and crosses grid by overlaping two horizontaland two vertical lines. | | | |-------|-------|------- | | | |-------|-------|------- | | | |Lets say, you thought of 60 questions to ask your student. Ask your student to write down on apiece of paper the numbers 1 to 60.The student first chooses a number from their list of numbers. Lets say for example, the studentchooses number 3, then question number 3 on your question list is the question you will askthem. Note: after the student chooses a number they have to mark it off their list, so that, thatquestion can only be asked once.You ask the student the question. If they get it right then they get to place their naught or cross,whichever symbol they choose, in whichever square they like on the grid.But, if the student gets it wrong then the teacher places their symbol in whichever square theylike. If the student gives an incorrect answer then dont forget to tell them the correct answerafterwards. The game goes on like this until the winner gets three symbols in a row. | | X | |-------|-------|------- | X | | |-------|-------|------- | | X | |This game is great for the teacher because it gives them an idea of how much the student hasretained from previous lessons, and also, what they already know. My student likes playing thisgame because she beats this teacher - a lot!
  12. 12. Animal AdventuresPractises: listening, speakingThe teacher tells a story about an animal, but repeatedly asks the students to guess what, why,where, what next etc. Example: Teacher: A cat did something very naughty. What did it do? Students: It ate some cheese. Teacher: No. Students: It attacked the pet bird. Teacher: Yes! Thats right! But why? Students: Because it was hungry. Teacher: No. Students: Because it was jealous. Teacher: Yes! What do you think happened then? Students: The owners came home. Teacher: Yes! (or No.) etc, etc, etcEach time the students "guess" something, there is another question. In reality there is no originalstory. It is the students who unknowingly invent it.Of course, the "story" could be about other subjects too, and used at other levels.
  13. 13. Ring-A-WordPractises: almost anythingThis classic classroom game is guaranteed to wake up the doziest class.It can be used for anything from learning the alphabet to revising irregular verbs. There aremany variations dependent only on the teachers imagination.The basic idea is that the teacher covers the whiteboard randomly with words or letters. If, forexample, you are teaching the alphabet, you might cover the board haphazardly with all thevowels and some of the more problematical consonants. Its a good idea to repeat some of theletters, perhaps in upper and lower case.The class is divided into two teams. One team is given a blue whiteboard marker. The otherteam is given a red marker. The teams line up on either side of the board with the front studentsholding the markers. The teacher calls out a letter and the front students try to locate it and drawa ring round it. Change students every call or every three calls etc. The team with the mostnumber of rings at the end wins.Some possible topics (can be mixed): alphabet numbers dates times irregular verbs (eg write "v1" and call out "v2" or vice versa) prepositions Typical DayPractises: speaking, present simpleA student describes a typical day. This can be his/her own day, or that of a filmstar, famouspolitian, friend etc.Good for all levels, especially beginners.Lots of present simple: "I get up at midday. My hairdresser arrives at 2pm."
  14. 14. The Noun GameDivide a lined piece of paper into 4 columns like this:etcIn the first column, insert random letters chosen by the students, like this:FBMetcNow fold the edge of the paper over so that the students cannot see the letters. In the secondcolumn, insert the same amount of nouns, again chosen by the students, like this:F AnimalB CityM CountryetcNB: make sure the students understand it is important that the nouns begin on the same line asthe first letter.The students now have to think of an answer for each noun, that begins with the adjacent letter,like this:F Animal FoxB City BangkokM Country MexicoetcThe game finishes when the students have completed all the answers or as many as they can. Inthe event they cannot finish, a time limit must be imposed. Scoring is as follows: no answer: 0 points same answer as another student: 1 point an answer nobody else has: 2 pointsScores are written into the end column on the sheet, like this:F Animal Fox 1
  15. 15. B City Bangkok 1M Country Mexico 2etcThe scores are then totalled up and the winner is the one with the most points. The length of thegame can be extended or shortened by using more or less letters and nouns.
  16. 16. Odd-One-OutThis simple activity practises vocabulary and to some extent speaking. Make a list of four orfive words, all but one of which have something in common. Ask the students to find the "odd-one-out".Dont be surprised if they come up with some surprising answers. Just ask them to justify theirchoice. You may well find it logical. Take, for example: dog, cat, donkey, dragonThe answer could be dragon (because it is the only mythical creature) or cat (because all theother words start with "d").Ideally, the students should phrase their justification in a form such as: I think the odd-one-out is dragon because it is a mythical creature and all the others are real creatures.Here are some suggested words. You can easily find more. And one good exercise is to askyour students to create some lists (along with valid justifications). Words Some possible answers cat - begins c dog, cat, donkey, dragon dragon - mythological banana, tomato, peach, apple, pear banana - shape Tokyo - city, not country Thailand, Singapore, Tokyo, England, Vietnam England - not in Asia aeroplane - flies car, aeroplane, truck, bus, train truck - not for passengers train - guided by rails camera - doesnt need electricity camera, computer, television, telephone, fax-machine television - 4 syllables love - positive love, hatred, fear, greed, anger greed - not an emotion condominium - 5 syllables hotel, motel, town-house, condominium, classroom classroom - not for residence water, bottle, shop, pencil, river water - uncountable noun branch, strawberry, anvil, iceberg, boat anvil - doesnt float in water
  17. 17. Vocabulary CardsI have a class activity that works quite well and I would like to share it.I prepare index cards with sample sentences using the vocabulary of the course. Then I prepare(on the computer) envelopes with the individual vocabulary word on the front where the addresswould go.I insert the card into the envelope.Students are dealt envelopes like a deck of cards, at random, two or three at a time.They have to write their own sentences using the vocabulary word on the outside of theenvelope. They are only allowed to look inside after their own sentence is written, to check ifthey did it correctly.The index card could also have the grammar rules, punctuation rules, spelling rules for irregularverbs, etc. Whatever was required by the lesson.The nice thing about this method is that students all do not have to write sentences using thesame words as the other students. When you have 40 students in a class, it is tedious to listen toall the same sentences. This breaks the vocabulary list up for everyone to learn.I have done this with many variations, including just giving the students an index card with theword and they must use their dictionary to look up the word, write the part of speech and asentence.The variations are really limited by time and imagination.Sometimes, when the students are all seated, I will fan out the cards like a regular playing deck,and they can choose their own from the pack!As the work is completed, students return the cards, and envelopes, to me and I give out anotherset, so by the end of the class, the words have rotated around the room.This also would work for math problems.It is especially good for team work, where students have to solve real life problems and writeparagraphs.
  18. 18. When You Turn Off The LightThis is an activity I created with my students aged 11-12 all together during a class.I wanted them to learn how to give directions. As it was very difficult for them because weneeded a context, I picked one of them and blindfolded him using my jumper. That was reallyfunny for them.He was placed in the middle of the classroom and told to find a word on the blackboardfollowing instructions given by the group. Hello Bingo!Set up a page with 5 columns and 5 rows. Each box holds a different inquiry. Students mustcirculate around the room and speak with other students to complete the information in theboxes. The first student who completes the boxes in rows like a bingo game (across, down,diagonally) is the winner. This is an excellent activity for the first few days of class. Someinquiries that are especially good, and dont reflect a particular nationality are: Someone with Someone who has Someone who is Someone who isSomeone who more than 5 lived in more than married more than married less thanlikes oranges children 2 countries 15 years 1 yearSomeone who Someone who can Someone who... etccannot drive a car use a computerSomeone whoworks in a Someone who... etcrestaurantSomeone whodoesnt know how etcto cookSomeone whovisited the dentistthis week (month)
  19. 19. Secret CodeThis activity is useful at the beginning of the year after a long term holiday, such as those inArgentina (3 months in all). This will break the ice in new groups as they will introduce eachother and talk about themselves.Stage I: Welcome your students to the class and invite them to pick a lollipop or sweet. Theywill find a rolled piece of paper wrapped around their sweet or lollipop. It will contained ahidden message that they will have to solve individually first.Stage II: Tell them the aim of the game, but make it clear that they will need to remember theletters of the alphabet to work out their hidden message. So make a quick revision bybrainstorming the letters and writing them on the board. Next, tell students that each lettercontained in their coded message uses the next letter in the alphabet. That is to say that if theyhave for example: TBZ ZPVS OBNF this will mean Say your name. Pick up one sweet foryou and demonstrate the activity by writing the solution of your code on the board. Solve one ortwo clues as a demonstration, and once they know what they have to do, give them five minutesto solve the rest of the message.Stage III: In turns then they carry out the instructions found in their hidden messages.Duration: The whole activity takes up to 15 minutes. Not only can it be used as a socializingactivity but a warmer activity as well whenever you need to revise structures or vocabularypreviously taught.Optional: If you have advanced levels you may adapt this activity in order to make them talk forabout a minute on any topic they are familiar with, such as, favourite pop music, videogamespros and cons etc. So this activity may be adapted to be used throughout the year. Verbs And Tenses 1. Illustrate known tenses with tense clue words, for example: - Habit/truth = present simple - Now = present continuous - Experience = present perfect - Plan = going to - Yesterday = past simple 2. Select a range of verbs. 3. Divide the class into teams. 4. Give the same verb and tense clue word to each team. 5. The idea is for each team to make the longest and hopefully perfectly contructed sentence. Count up the words from each teams sentence and score on the board. Students of all ages like healthy competition, and the cleverer ones will realise that by adding lists to their sentences they will score more points! eg. Yesterday I swam quickly across the deep blue river with my brother, my sister, my sisters boyfriend, my fat black dog etc.
  20. 20. What Am I wearing?Objective: identify clothes, styles, colours, shapesBefore class I draw a circle on the board with four air bubbles coming from it and in each writesummer, winter, spring and autumn. When I enter the classroom I wear a hat, scarf, gloves, coatetc and we talk about the various garments. Explain garments, clothes, dress etc. In groupsbrainstorm different clothes for the seasons. Change groups around and new groups completequestionaire about clothes, a pair of shoes, gloves, pyjamas etc. Have a discussion aboutstudents favourite clothes, fashions, can they wear what they like or what their parents choose,etc.Team game. One student from each team goes to the board and the teacher describes a garment.The winner is the first student to write the correct word with correct spelling. Other students cancall or in most cases yell out the word! A real fun game.I then play another game. I collect about 12 garments or pieces of clothing (eg vest, pants,boxers, skirt, jersey, bra, scarf, gloves, beads, socks) and put them in a pillow case or similar. Iplay a music tape and students pass around the bag. When the music stops whoever is holdingthe bag has to pull out a garment (without looking inside) and put on whatever they pull out. Thisis hiliarious, shrieks of laughter. When all garments are on the students, we repeat the garment asthey put it back in the bag.
  21. 21. PRE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL Clap!Practises: listening, speakingThe teacher starts telling a story.After a few sentences, she claps her hands and asks a student to continue the story. After a fewmore sentences, the teacher claps hands again and asks another student to continue. Repeat asnecessary. Double JeopardyPractises: question-word questionsTeacher - or somebody - gives an answer, for example a place, a date, a person, a reason etc.The others try to find the question.Simple example:Answer: Mont BlancQuestion: What is the highest mountain in Europe? How?Practises: speaking, the imperativeStudents give mini presentations on "how to do something".Some sample topics: how to start a car how to use a photocopier how to make a cup of tea how to make an omelette how to change a tyre how to change babys nappy how to make a telephone call how to play golfThis can be more or less complicated, as the teacher wishes. It can, for example, be a 2-minutedelivery with no visual aids, or a 15-minute exposé with OHPTs and handouts followed byquestions.
  22. 22. Past MimePractises: past continuous wit past simpleStudents work in pairs. Each pair is given or writes a past continuous + past simple sentence(Sbdy was doing when sbdy did).Each pair mimes its sentence and the class tries to guess it. It may help, especially with morecomplex sentences, to write the sentence outline on the board (one underline for each word) andfill in words as the class guesses them.Some suggested sentences I was climbing a 200-year old oak tree in the middle of the forest when one of the branches broke and I fell 50 feet to the ground. Two lovers were watching a cheap television when it suddenly exploded and showered them with glass. I was driving my mother-in-laws car when a policeman stopped me because he thought that I was speeding. A blind man was withdrawing money from his banks cash dispenser when three masked gunmen attacked him and stole his wallet. I was walking down the road when a mad dog bit me. Secret WordPractises: speaking, questionsStudent A leaves the room.The other students choose a secret word.They then ask Student A to return and ask her questions to elicit the secret word.Student A must reply fully to all questions without saying the secret word (which, of course, shedoesnt know). She loses by saying it.
  23. 23. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL Consonant Or VowelPractises: listening, spellingOne member of the class leaves the room and is called back in after one or two minutes. She isinformed that the teacher has told the other students something rather confidential about her. Hertask is to discover what the teacher has revealed by asking yes/no questions such as: is it aboutmy past? does it involve the police?Unknown to the unfortunate student, all the others will answer yes or no to these questionsaccording to a simple code: if the question ends with a consonant, they answer "no"; if thequestion ends with a vowel they answer "yes" (or vice versa). This leads to a certain amount ofperplexity and eventual hilarity.After a time, the teacher intervenes to reveal the truth to the student: that he has not told the otherstudents anything at all. He observes how curious it is that they nevertheless always answer yesor no unanimously. The students task now is to discover the code by continuing to ask questionsabout anything.For example, the student might point to the whiteboard and ask the following questions:Question: Response:Is this white? Yes, it is.Is it black? No, it isnt.Is it blue? Yes, it is.This is good listening and spelling practice for the majority of the students and a real mind-bender for the student whose most intimate secrets have been so callously revealed.
  24. 24. ImprovisationsPractises: speakingThe following ideas are not role-plays or simulations (although many of them can be adapted assuch). The objective here is total spontaneity and improvisation. Students have no time toprepare. Their roles and situations are given to them on the spot and they have to reactimmediately. Generally, the less details that are given to students, the better. This allows theirown imaginations to construct situations and ensures richer dynamics.Teachers are sometimes afraid that students may not be able to cope with improvisation. Inreality, it is surprising just how imaginative students will be (subject to level, of course). Theycan usually be relied on to give more than they are asked for. But if, on the odd occasion, animprovisation does not work, flogging a dead horse is a sure-fire way to prolong the agony.It is often helpful to give students conflicting objectives to ensure a more difficult resolution. Forexample, in the case of The Hypochondriac, the Doctor should not know his patient is ahypochondriac and the patient should not know that he is consulting a particularly tight-fisteddoctor. (Whether the students themselves know of this is a decision for the teacher.)The following ideas are just that - ideas. They can be modified, adapted, changed, rethought,distorted, simplified, made more difficult etc.In general, begin classes with pairs to warm up and finish with groups.
  25. 25. St Valentines DayLast year I had a very successful class devoted to St Valentines Day. I hope it may be useful forsome of my colleagues: 1. Decorate your class for this occasion. A month before Valentines start a contest for the best Valentines card and for a poem or translation of a piece of poetry devoted to the topic. Make an exhibition of best works. 2. Start your class with some nice poem (eg "Its Valentines Day" by Jack Prelutsky) or song about love. You can give your students a chance to listen to it and after that they can do a "fill-in" test using the song (eg "And I love her" by the Beatles is very nice to hear and to write the words - I have even used it as a dictation). 3. Put the question: "What is "love"?" Give some dictionary definitions. Then ask students to create their own definition of love. You can use the poem "Love is..." by Greg Scelsa as an example. 4. The next question is "Why do people love each other?" Start with the poem "I love you more than applesauce" by Jack Prelutsky and after the discussion ask students to create their own "I love you more than..." poems. 5. Dont forget to praise the winners of the contest somehow and to show the best works. 6. Finish your class with some more songs about love. DistractorsSelect a student who has a good command of the language and ask him/her to sit at the front ofthe class. Give him/her a sheet of paper with a simple task to do (e.g. a calculation, copying ashort paragraph from a textbook, etc.). Tell the class that their role is to impede the student fromeven starting the task by keeping on asking questions. The student selected should stop theactivity to answer the questions. You can set a time limit for the student to complete the task,challenging him/her to finish it during the time established.Another student can be called and challenged to do the task in less time while the class keepdistracting him/her. CategoriesA basic game but lots of fun for students and good workout for vocabulary.The students write 6 or 7 different categories, for example Country, Adjective, Irregular Verb,Profession etc. The trainer then gives them a letter and the students have to fill the categorieswith words beginning with this letter.Example B: Brazil, Big, Be, Baker etc.If they all have the same word for each category: 5 points each; different words 10 points; and ifonly one person can get a word 20 points.
  26. 26. Book CoverStudents create a book cover for their favourite chapter of a book read in class or independently. Step 1: Front cover Choose chapter and prepare front cover for the chapter using a drawing made with any art materials. Can include a scene from the chapter, title, author etc. (Creativity) Step 2: Inside front cover Write summary of the chosen chapter. (Comprehension) Step 3: Inside back cover Write short biography of the author. (Accuracy) Step 4: Back cover Interview four different students or make up four different reviews using fictitious names. (Opinion)Project rubric can vary depending on the weight given to each component. Controversial StatementsHere are some great controversial statements to get the conversation going. Use them in variousways. Give one or a few to students for pair/group discussion. Or casually toss one of thesestatements yourself into the conversation at an appropriate moment. Or organize a debate. A womans place is in the home. Fare-dodging on a train or bus is ok if you can get away with it. Boys and girls should not have equal education. A foreign language cannot be taught. It must be learned. A country gets the government it deserves. A man should have a wife for the family and a mistress for pleasure. All property should be owned by the state. Murderers should be executed. Soft drugs like marijuana should be legalized. Beauty is only a matter of taste. Riches are for spending. We are all basically selfish. Punishment never has any good effect. Those who can do, those who cant teach. You will be happier if you stay unmarried. People work better if they are paid more. Committing suicide should be made legal. Royalty and democracy are incompatible.
  27. 27. Warm Up Activities For English Clubs20 QuestionsOne person thinks of an object (person, place, or thing). Everyone takes turns asking yes/noquestions until someone can guess correctly (or until 20 questions are asked). The difficult part isthat you cannot ask "wh" questions!Example: PINEAPPLE. Does it talk? No. Does it make life easier? No. Do you eat it? Yes. Is itsomething you would eat for dinner? No. Etc...If someone makes a mistake in forming the question, other club members can help turn it into aproper question.Cant Say Yes or NoIn this game everyone is given a certain number of coins or squares of paper (about 10).Everyone moves around the room starting conversations and asking each other questions. Theonly rule is that you cannot say the words YES or NO. If you accidentally say one of thesewords, you have to give a coin or square to the person who you said it to. Try to trick each otherby asking questions that you would almost always answer with a yes or no. Think of other waysto trick your friends. Sometimes asking two quick questions in a row works well. (Especially tagquestions: Are you new here? This is your first time in America, isnt it?). This game is a greatway to practise using small talk and to add variety to your vocabulary. It also makes everyonelaugh.Fact or FictionIn this game, one person tells a short story about themselves or someone they know or heardabout. Usually it is something funny or crazy. It can be a true story, or something made up.Example: Josh tells a story about his Uncle Leo who sleeps in the nude. One day Uncle Leo wassleepwalking and he went outside and took his dog for a walk. The next door neighbour wascoming home late from work and saw him! She called the police and he got arrested for beingnaked in public.Everyone around the room has to say whether they think Joshs story is fact (true) or fiction(made up). Josh reveals the truth when everyone has guessed. Members can take turns telling astory.Chain FairytaleThis is a fun writing warm-up. Everyone has a piece of paper and writes the first sentence or twoto start a fairytale (not one that already exists).Example: Once upon a time there was a frog that had no legs. He wanted to get married, butthere were no female legless frogs in the land.After one minute the leader will say "SWITCH". At this time the writers have to put down theirpens and pass the papers. They cannot finish their sentences. Then, the next writers will continuethe story. After about ten minutes you will have as many silly stories to read as you have clubmembers. The leader should warn the writers that they will soon have to wrap-up the storyduring the last two minutes so that each story has a conclusion. Read all of the stories out loudfor a good laugh. You can extend this activity by trying to edit each others writing and spellingerrors.
  28. 28. Draw the PictureIn this activity members split up into pairs or small groups. One person looks at a scene from amagazine or book (the leader should cut out enough pictures, or bring in enough magazines forthe club). The other person has a pencil and a blank piece of paper. The person with the picturewill try to describe everything he sees to the drawer. This is good practice for using prepositionsof place. When the describer is finished, compare the drawings to the real thing! Whose is theclosest to the original?CategoriesFor this game, one person thinks of a category, such as MOVIES. In a circle, everyone must takea turn thinking of a Movie title (in English of course). If someone takes too long to give ananswer (the leader should count to five) then that person is out and a new category begins. Ifsomeone gives an answer that doesnt make sense or is incorrect, he is also out of the game. Forexample, if the category is VEGETABLES and someone says "banana" that person is out. Thegame continues until only one person is left!Who am I?In this game, the leader prepares cards with famous peoples names on them. The leader tapesone card on the back of each member. Then everyone pretends they are at a party and asks eachother questions to find out their own identities. When someone guesses their own name correctly,the name-tag gets taped to their front and they continue to chat with the party guests untileveryone is wearing the nametag on the front.JeopardyIn this game, which is based on the famous gameshow Jeopardy, everyone writes down tenanswers to questions about themselves. After writing down the answers, people have to formpairs or small groups and try to find out what the questions are.Example: (answer = purple) "What is your favorite colour?" "Blue." "What colour do you hate?""Green." "What colour is your underwear?" "Purple!" You can stop at three guesses if you want,or keep going until someone in the club can guess the question.Hot SeatIn this game, the club is split up into two teams. One member from each team sits facing thegroup. The leader holds up a word (or writes it on the board if you are in a classroom) for all ofthe team members to see except for the two players in the hot seats. The teams must try to get theperson in the hot seat to guess the word or phrase. The first person to guess correctly gets tostand up and a new member from their team takes the hot seat. The person on the other team hasto remain in the hot seat until she gets an answer first. You can keep score or just play for fun.This game can also be played in pairs. One pair member closes their eyes while the leader showsthe word to the other pair members. The first pair to get the word right gets a point. Warning!This is a loud game because people tend to get excited and yell!Broken TelephoneThis is a listening and pronunciation activity that always gets people laughing. The leader firstmust think of a sentence or phrase and whisper it to the person beside her. That person will thenwhisper what she heard to the next person. Each person can only say, "Can you please repeatthat?" one time. When the message reaches the end of the chain that person must speak out loud.Oftentimes the message will be completely different when it reaches the end. Try to find outwhere the chain broke! In a big group you can send the message two ways and find out whichteam comes closest to the real message. (A famous example is the army message that started as"Send reinforcements, were going to advance" and ended as "Send three and fourpence, weregoing to a dance