One common question from most new teachers is; “What activities can I do with my students?’ So I am going to try and explain a few common activities and how to amend them for several age groups to help budding and existing teachers alike make their lessons a little more varied.
One idea is to give them writing tracing sheets that help the really young learners to make the shape of letters and words. You can even cut the words up on separate slips of paper and after each student finishes writing one word they come to the teacher, read it and then the teacher gives them a reward such as a chip and a new word on another slip of paper to trace again. This will work on students’ reading abilities as well as their writing and additionally motivate the students to write and read more as they are incentivised by the chip or other reward.
Have you ever had a reading text with preteens and not been sure how to make it last or more interesting? If you have, you may want to try this idea. Before class prepare a few simple sentences that summarise the article with the key target vocabulary missing. For example if you are teaching places in a city you could write “He went to the ___________ to read a book.” The students scan the text to find the correct word that goes into the gap. Cut the strips out and give them to the students in groups in non sequential order and make them order them after they have filled in the gaps. You could even have the students mingle afterwards and retell or paraphrase the text using the summary strips they have just filled in and then sequenced.
Simple surveys are also an easy way to get students interacting with each other and practising many skills. If you have students who won’t talk to each other then you fill in the student’s name column and give them to the class and so the students have to talk the other students who they may have otherwise not talked to.
Teenage Classes and Older
For higher levels or those that are very fluent debates and presentations can be rewarding class activities. One tip I have for setting up a debate would be to have a few simple example arguments for the discussions given to the students. They have to sort them into for and against the motion, prior to ranking each of them in order that they agree with whilst providing reasons. I have found doing so helps debates last a little longer, thus improving the ability of each student to speak in longer terms as well as giving more structure to the debates.
If there is a listening tape or video to be used in the coursebook this activity, the dictogloss, will allow teachers to give students practice in developing note taking and paraphrasing skills. Essentially students listen to or watch something that inputs the language (listening tape or video, say). The students listen or watch a couple of times and take notes. They then work in pairs to try and recreate the original, either word for word, or in summary form. I feel this is good practice for students learning English to either go abroad and study (lectures) or to work (business meetings).
I hope that these five simple twists on common activities will help new or inexperienced teachers try something different in the classroom.