Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.
Individual or Team Activities
This lesson focuses on activities involving a variety of English disciplines designed for a classroom full of students. Many of these activities require putting the students in teams but they can also be used in one-on-one situations.
How Many Words Do You Know?
This activity is easy to set up and simple to play.
- Put the students into small teams of 4-5 and assign one student to be the secretary. The secretary's job is to write down all of the team's answers.
- Set a timer for two minutes and call out a letter; for example, the letter 'S.' The teams have to think of and write down as many words beginning with the assigned letter as they can in the time limit.
- After time is up, ask each team to send one student (not the secretary) up to the board and write down their team's list.
The winning team is the one that has the most words. If there is a tie, you can use correct spelling as a tiebreaker. You can repeat the process as many times as needed.
To increase the difficulty, try making the words a bit more challenging. For instance, instead of calling out a letter, try using prefixes or suffixes. A prefix is added before the root word and a suffix is added to the end of a root word in order to change its meaning. For example, if your root word is ''break'', you can add ''un'' to the beginning (a prefix) and ''able'' to the ending (suffix) to make the word ''unbreakable''. An example of how you can use this activity is to say, ''write down words that begin with 'EST.'' Alternatively, you can have members of each team stand up and say their words to increase the speaking component of the activity.
Q & A
In this activity, students create a list of questions they will use to interview a classmate. Tell students to write down 10 questions on a sheet of paper. Next, pair the students up and give them ample time to ask their questions and write down the answers. At the end of the activity, ask for volunteers to 'introduce' their classmate to the rest of the class. Most students have already memorized a self introduction, so encouraging them to introduce another person is a great way to get them to practice speaking without to much prep time.
- What pets do you have?
- What is your favorite sport?
- How many brothers or sisters do you have?
- What is your father or mother's job?
- Who is your best friend?
- When is your birthday?
- Where is your favorite place?
- What musical instrument do you play or would you like to play?
- What is your favorite TV show?
- What is your favorite subject in school?
For this activity you will need a few paper dictionaries. First, put the students into teams and then ask for one member of each team to come to the front of the room. Give each student a dictionary but tell him or her to keep the dictionary closed. Next, announce a word and then, on the count of three, allow the students to open the dictionaries and find the word. The student who can find the word and read the definition fastest earns one point for the team.
What Happens Next?
This activity encourages imagination and creativity because it requires students to finish a story. If possible, make a handout that includes the following texts and give one copy to each student. Tell students they can finish the story any way they like. At the end of the activity you can ask for volunteers to read their stories aloud. Students who volunteer to read will be taking their first steps toward confident public speaking, a valuable tool for any ESL student to possess. If too many students are reluctant to volunteer, try offering small prizes or classroom perks to those who speak up.
'Mary was walking to the bus stop when she saw something out of the corner of her eye. When she turned her head, the thing disappeared around the corner of a nearby building. Mary knew she should go to wait for the bus, but she was too curious. She walked to the building and looked around the corner. She couldn't believe what she saw. It was a…'
'It was the last day of school and Tim was feeling nervous and excited. He knew that during lunch, he would play his final game of dodge ball with his friends. Finally, the bell for lunch rang. Tim ran to the gym and pushed open the big doors. That's when he saw something he didn't expect. His friends were there waiting, but there was also someone he'd never seen before. The new person was…'
When teaching English to kids, it's important to make things fun in order to keep the students engaged. Word quizzes, physical elements and opportunities to show off creativity can go a long way toward keeping kids interested in learning new things.
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