Great Curtis Mayfield song. What about your
students - do you get them up out of their chairs at least
once in most lessons? It can make a big difference to the
general atmosphere of the lesson, helps them take a physical
break from some intense tasks, gets the blood circulating
again, makes the lesson more dynamic & can be lots of
fun. Most students can see this but you do get the odd one
who groans when you ask them to stand up. Sometimes they might
refuse to get up. As with most things, the more you do it
the easier it is. So if you don't regularly get them up, start
incorporating it into each lesson.
Here are a few activities when students get
up out of their chairs:
- mingle activities - for example
a Find Someone Who activity - students mingle, talking to
everyone in order to find a person that matches the information
that is asked for on their sheets.
Another example, a very light-hearted 'conference
advice sessions' are lots of fun - e.g.. a group of phobics,
each with a different wacky phobia, mingle & discuss their
problems, giving & getting advice to help. A group of
travel agents on the verge of a breakdown, each having different
customer experiences which drove them to despair, again mingle
& discuss their problems, giving & getting advice
- students using the board - filling
in timelines, writing vocabulary, drawing etc.. When planning
to use the board in a lesson, think if you can get the students
to do it for you. Takes more time but can be interesting.
- roleplay to add more realism &
paralinguistics to the activity. Before the roleplay the students
discuss where they'll be standing, what (invisible) props
there will be, & how they will act. They act out the roleplay
several times, trying to make it as real as possible.
- total physical response activities
- see the Tip 'Action'
- running dictations - see the Tip
- viewing texts that you have put on the
walls of the classroom - a convenient way to view a lot
of texts - this could be an information gathering task or
just looking at examples.
For the younger learner you could put pictures
of objects on the walls or colours & when you say the
object/colour they run & touch it.
- viewing other students' work on the
walls - either just looking or correcting written work
of others or deciding which is the best letter, advice written
- warmer, coolers & games......see
list of warmers
A game for the younger learner - Mr Wolf
- assign a student to be Mr Wolf & stand her at one side
of the room. The others are at the other side & ask the
question, 'What's the time, Mr Wolf?' who might reply 'It's
one o'clock' & the students all move one step towards
Mr Wolf. When Mr Wolf decides that it's time, she might say
'It's time to eat you/for pizza' & tries to catch as many
students as she can before they manage to run back to their
side. The ones she catches joins her on the other side. The
object is for Mr Wolf & caught partners to catch the rest
of the class.
- drama activities - for example, here's a very nice
activity called 'Dramatic Moving'. Clear the room of chairs & desks & get the students at one side of the room.
You then give them instructions on how they should move to
the other side of the room & back. For example:
- you are really happy with life & you going to an important
& exciting meeting.
- you are on a beach & have to get to the water, 50 metres
away, but the sand is blistering hot.
- you are carrying two heavy suitcases up a steep hill, the
sun is beating down & you're wearing a heavy overcoat.
- you're on a tightrope, 50 metres in the air with no safety
net, you need to get to the other side. There are occasional
breezes that make balancing difficult.
Lots of fun.
It can be awkward asking small groups & one-to-one classes to stand up & move around
but it is still very useful for the reasons mentioned at the
to the contents
I'm sure most of us have had this experience.
You've got a beginner's group & all is going really well
for the students. They enjoy coming to class, get on with
each other & have fun with the new language. Progress
is seen by all. Then after about a month or so, things begin
to get a bit more complicated with the grammar getting complex
& you realise that the 'honeymoon period' is over.
Here are a few ideas to help:
- pre-empt when this might happen & pave the way by gradually
developing a knowledge of grammar & terminology used to
- keep all of the language relevant &
interesting. Unless there's a need, forget about unnecessary
language - for example nationality vocabulary in a monolingual
group - get them talking about themselves & their opinions
as soon as they can - the language of discussion.
- look critically at the coursebook - decide
whether your students really need to cover what is presented.
Jump around & cater to the students. Tell them why you're
not sticking to the coursebook. Given the choice, I would
tend to start the coursebook after a few months.
- give them group & individual tutorials
- pep talks.
- put yourself in their shoes & help
them around their individual problem areas.
This is a crucial time for beginner students & if not dealt with sensitively they can lose motivation
& leave the course. Think ahead & help.
to the contents
The tape & the tape recorder is an essential
classroom resource. Coursebooks contain ready-made tapes &
the transcripts for instant use but do you often find that
the tape isn't quite what you need? Do you just carry on &
use it all the same or ignore it & look for something
else in the book? How often do you make your own tapes? Time-consuming
but well worth the extra effort.
Making your own tape can be tricky. There
are basically three types of homemade tapes; scripted,
semi-scripted & authentic. Here's a quick
look at each.
scripted tapes: here you write out
+: you can make sure the tape contains exactly what
-: making this type of tape sound natural can be very
semi-scripted tapes: here you give
the idea or language item you want used & the speakers
try to get it in as naturally as they can.
+: this sounds more natural.
-: you need to find good teacher actors to make these.
authentic tapes: here the speakers
are unaware they are being recorded.
-: the density of the language might make it difficult
It is worth making the effort to produce
your own tapes. A drawback of making your own semi-scripted
or authentic tape is the lack of a transcript. It can take
ages to write it all down but sometimes it is necessary. A
variation on this is to get the students to transcribe a part
of the text themselves. Give them the recorder so they can
stop, rewind & start when they want & let them write
down what they hear.
We've mentioned using transcripts before
as a means to helping students see where they have had problems
in their listening & also as a means to noticing aspects
of language - we usually get them to underline examples or
contrast examples. When they have transcribed a section you
could lead them to analyse what they have in front of them.
A nice variation.
Here are some more listening ideas from past
High speed dictations
Get it taped
Knock on wood
to the contents
the Past Teaching Tips