To sink our students into a topic, a favourite
way is to ask them to brainstorm all they know by shouting
out all the words
connected to an area. How about getting them to write down
what they think about a topic as fast as they can without
Give them 2-3 minutes to write their opinions
about an area you
are going to look at - be strict with the time limit you set
keep it short. They shouldn't worry about grammar or spelling
problems - just write & don't stop! Tell them that no-one
going to look at it & when they come to a word they don't
known they can leave a blank or write in the word in their
This is sometimes known as 'fastwriting'.
This is writing for
fluency. If you want to go back afterwards, they could look
up the words they had difficulties with but I tend to use it
just for brainstorming. The more you use it the more spontaneous writing practice they get & the easier it is to then integrate other writing activities into the lesson. Writing becomes
another essential ingredient. Try it & see.
This is a very nice way of having lots of
fun & really getting
your students to think about what is being said. Divide the
class into groups of five & in each group assign an interviewer
& four students who are the combined interviewee. The
interview could be about anything, fitting in with the theme
you are dealing with.
The interviewer asks a question & the interviewee people
take it in turns to say a word each.
Interviewer: Could you tell me how you started out in
std 1: Well
std 2: I
std 3: first
std 4: discovered
std 1: I
std 2: was
std 3: interested
std 4: when
std 1: I
std 2: saw
std 3: my
std 4: first
std 1: film
Then the interviewer asks another question
& the interviewees
answer in turn again.
The students rotate when they supply the
next part, listening
very carefully to the other students & directing the conversation
as they wish. The replies must make grammatical sense. Try
it - it's great language prediction & manipulation practice
& lots of fun.
to the index
As Valentine's Day is nearly
here, this week is a good time to do the 'Consequences' activity
- an any level activity. I'm sure that quite a lot of you
will know this activity but for those of you who don't here's
how to do it. Then there are ideas for variations & how you
might follow up the activity.
By way of a lead in, think of two well-known people of very
different character type & ask your students to imagine how
they might get on.
Each student has a blank piece of paper & on instructions
from you, they write a piece of information at the top of
the paper & then fold the paper so the info can't be seen
& hand it on to the person on the right. Then you ask them
to write something else & the same happens.
Here are the instructions:
1.write down the name of a
2.write down the name of a famous man
3.write down a public place
4.write down a quote
5.write down another quote
6.write down an action
7.write down another action
8.write down an outcome
When you come to the end the
papers should have been written on eight times by different
students as they rotated them. You could join in as well.
In the feedback you begin reading out the whole of the story
that you ended with. Then each student reads his or her bizarre
e.g. Bill Clinton met Margaret
Thatcher at a cinema. She said to him 'Would you like a coffee'
& he said to her 'I'm just going to take my dog for a walk'.
She ate a pizza & he watched TV. The consequence was that
they lived happily ever after.
You could change the different instructions to suit e.g. he
gave to her... she gave to him..../she was (adjective) ..he
was (adjective).. Design the activity to bring in language
you've recently been looking at.
If you give the class in a
corporate setting you could base it on companies. Substitute
the people for companies & change the rest as necessary. Students
could discuss how the companies mentioned combine & then roleplay
a merger negotiating meeting. This could be used as an introduction
to a text about mergers.
Younger learners could substitute
the people for cartoon characters or animals.
After this the students could decide on the best story & write
it out with more detail & then put the stories on the walls
for all to see. This could be coupled with a review of past
tenses, in/direct speech.....
The students could roleplay
the people in the original stories, imagining they are in
the scene mentioned.
A discussion could centre on
compatibility & the degree of this needed for a successful
relationship. Then on to the other ingredients of a good romantic
You could do the above as a
lead in to the Valentine's
There are ideas for the theme
of romance & Valentine's Day at last February's
the Past Teaching Tips