Have you ever wondered about the extent to which your beliefs about teaching ESL influence your day to day work?
The truth is that self-reflection is one of the most powerful tools en route to becoming a real pro. Just like in the case of any other job, teachers also need a defining, but flexible perspective on TEFL. Let me tell you how I see this highly complex process we call teaching English. In my understanding, when you teach you transfer knowledge by creating a realm of cognition for your students. Teaching starts with inviting them to this realm by raising interest and of course continues by maintaining and satisfying that interest for as long as possible. In your case, the teacher is the students’ tour guide on their journey into the world of English. As any guide would do, you share as much information as your students can absorb. The long journey, however, consists of smaller trips to certain locations in the realm of the English language. These trips help students comprehend and acquire knowledge, since as any observant and curious traveler would do; they want to see every aspect of the world you create for them. Teaching is about creating and designing this world for the students, then guiding them through it, and facing challenges together that often block the way towards their objective. You are the game master who designs a big adventure in which students are the adventurers and you are their guardian. In other words, the job is to make the journey as memorable as possible. As a tour guide, you have numerous options to achieve this goal. However, creative and fun activities are probably your best friends to facilitate second language acquisition the most. Alright, I know that you’re here for the activities, so let’s quit the chatter and let the action begin!
Enjoy These Inspiring Communicative Activities with Your Class
Billy, the Dragon
Assign students to small groups. Bring a picture of some cartoonish silly looking dragon to class and give it to students. Tell them that the picture shows Billy, the dragon who has grown tired of what dragons usually do. Kidnapping princesses, fighting knights, sleeping on a pile of treasure and living in a cold and dark hidden cave are things Billy has been really fed up with for a while, so he has decided to pursue other job opportunities.
Billy is interested in the following jobs. Each group should pick a job or two and come up with reasons why the guy would be eligible for the chosen profession. Students should also explain how Billy has been feeling about his life and why he wants to change it. Groups exchange information.
firefighter, policeman, car dealer, baller dancer, shop assistant, nurse
Work related vocabulary, the Present Simple, the Present Perfect and the modal verbs are great to practice and consolidate with this activity.
Superbunny and Chickenboy
It’s cooperative fun again. Students work in groups.Give one character description to each group and tell students that they need to think of what these characters’ room might be like, and what objects, including furniture, special objects the character might use and basically anything they can come up with might be in the room. Students should explain why they think certain objects are in there. You might want to have them draw the characters’ room’s layout.
As the official hero of Carotville, Superbunny dedicates his super powers to keep the city safe from the forces of evil. He has many gadgets and awesome devices which help him. The location of his secret lair is unknown, but what’s sure is that it’s underground. His powers come from drinking a special kind of carrot juice, but of course no one knows the ingredients but him! Superbunny wears a pretty cool outfit and drives a super-duper vehicle, the bunnymobile.
Chickenboy is Superbunny’s trusty sidekick, and although he isn’t from Carotville, his actions have made him popular among the citizens of this great city. Chickenboy shares an apartment with his girlfriend, Chickengirl who doesn’t know what he really does. Unlike Superbunny, Chickenboy doesn’t drink the special carrot juice but relies on his cool gadgets instead.
Evilbunny is the criminal mastermind of Carrotville, who only lives for making trouble whenever it’s possible. He’s a genius and lives in a secret laboratory somewhere near the city. It goes without saying that Evilbunny has a vast array of scary devices to help him do bad things. He’s been working on another evil plan to rob Carrotbank recently.
This activity is really useful to revise prepositions of place and here and there. If you are in need of practicing other grammar structures, there’s nothing to worry about as you might easily implement it as a story telling activity focusing on verb tenses for example.
As usual, students cooperate again.
The activity’s background is as follows. Archeologists unearthed the long forgotten diary of the infamous Dr. Nuts, a mad scientist who did some really weird research in his hidden lab a long time ago. As archeologists, students are asked to come up with a short report about the diary. When they are ready, students act out a scientific conference where they present their findings. Of course, in order to do that, students need the diary first.
Students should provide information about the following.
- Dr. Nuts’ early life (family problems, drop out from school etc)
- personality, motivation, goals
- description of laboratory (location and what it’s like)
- experiments, plans, inventions
Groups should also think of some questions to find out as much information about the other groups’ versions as possible.
As far as grammar is concerned, the past tenses are great to consolidate with it. However, this activity is quite longish so letting them use the language without serious corrections is strongly suggested.
Remember, the way in which you perceive teaching ESL greatly influences the outcome of the process.
You want students to remember the most of what happens in class, as we all know how students are with homework. To achieve it, they need some memorable action which they have fun with, but learn a lot from at the same time.