What is it that makes someone or something award worthy? What criteria should individuals or committees use when doling out awards? Who should decide what awards should be given and who should receive them? What is an appropriate prize for an award winner? All these questions are ones which your students will ask and hopefully answer as they explore the idea of awards. In the process, they will have fun and acquire award-winning language skills in English!
Try These Award Worthy ESL Activities with Your Class
The Academy Awards
How much do your students already know about the academy awards? Start class with a discussion in which you encourage your students to share what they already know about these awards. Has anyone ever watched the awards before? Does anyone know what the categories are? Can anyone name a winner of an academy award? Once students have shared, take a few minutes to show a video clip from a previous award ceremony. Ask your students to pay particular attention to the speeches given by the winners of the awards. Though watching the video should increase your students’ familiarity with the awards, you may want to direct your students to research more information either online or through library research. They will likely discover that these awards are given to professionals in the film industry. A person can win one of these awards in many categories. The categories cover many different areas of film production including directing, writing and acting. After your class has more knowledge of the awards, give your students a list of all the active categories in which awards are given, and ask each person to select a category in which he or she would like to receive an award.
Now that your students have a general understanding of the academy awards and each person has chosen his or her award category, ask your class to write their own acceptance speeches, modeled after the ones you saw earlier in the lesson. You can point out that many people use their acceptance speech to thank others for their support or to give credit to others who assisted the winner in his success. Others add personal comments, humor or other elements to the short speeches. The limit for each of these speeches during the ceremony is forty-five seconds. Challenge your students to write their own acceptance speech that fits within that forty-five second time limit. If your students are unsure what they would like to say, they can find inspiration from speeches that others have given. Then have your own award ceremony in class and have each person give his speech. If you like, you can design your own awards and give them to your students before each person gives his speech. Encourage your class to clap and cheer and generally have a good time. On an additional note, these speeches would also be a good opportunity to video tape your students so you can review their speaking in one on one conferences.
The Teacher of the Year Award
Talking about the teacher of the year award with your ESL class is a good way to bring an award into their lives in a real and tangible way. Though the criteria differ from state to state, students who nominate their teachers for teacher of the year often write letters of nomination to the award committees. Though you should not ask your students to write a letter nominating you for the award, you can use this idea to practice their formal letter writing skills. Ask each of your students to think of a previous teacher who had a great impact on him or her. Encourage your class to make some notes about what made that teacher special. Did he teach his subject in an interesting or unusual way? Did she make a great impact on the lives of her students and their families? What was it about that teacher that was most memorable? After the brainstorming session, have each person organize his thoughts into a formal letter of recommendation. You can use this opportunity to review with your students how to write a formal letter and what type of language is appropriate in formal writing. When the letters are completed, encourage each person to write a personal letter to their teacher explaining the class activity and attaching a copy to the personal letter. The teachers will be encouraged to hear how they have impacted the lives of their students and have made an impact!
Employee of the Month
Not all awards have to be large scale. Many employers offer an employee of the month award on a steady basis. This award is a way to recognize and affirm regular people doing regular jobs. When awards are for the average person, though, the criteria for the winner will be very different from those that we have already discussed. Break your class into groups and introduce them to the concept of employee of the month (if they are not already familiar with it). Ask each group to imagine that it is the management of a particular business. Your students can decide for themselves what business they want to imagine themselves as. Then, keeping the fictional work environment in mind, ask each group to compile a list of criteria they might use to determine who the employee of the month is. They should keep in mind what skills and attitudes they are looking for in an employee and then weight those items in a checklist. Then have each group determine what an appropriate prize would be for the winner.
You can follow up this activity by discussing with your class what makes a model student in your ESL class. You can express your expectations and articulate the criteria you use as you evaluate them. If you like, start awarding a student of the month award based on the criteria you communicate to your class. In addition, you can maintain a bulletin board throughout the year displaying each student of the month until the final semester. You can also use the award as an opportunity for your students to give a short acceptance speech in front of the class.
Everyone likes to be recognized for his accomplishments. When that happens, it is good to be able to express oneself in an organized and straightforward way.
Though most of your students may not win national or international awards in their futures, though some might, they will benefit from talking about what makes someone award worthy. Besides, who knows? Someone in your class may need to give an acceptance speech in the future, and you might just get a mention!