Halloween is not exactly around the corner.
But you don’t have to put spooky language learning on the backburner and wait to embrace this holiday. Here are six great speaking activities you can do to have fun with horror.
6 Slightly Scary Activities to Get Your ESL Students Talking up a Storm
Many areas of the world do not celebrate Halloween, and many of your students may know very little about the celebration. Start your Halloween festivities by discussing what they know about Halloween. Put students in groups of around four and have them answer the following questions: Have you ever been trick or treating? If so what costume did you wear? What costume would you like to wear this year? Do you celebrate Halloween at home? Is there a similar celebration in your home culture? What do you want to know about Halloween? Encourage students to share their knowledge about Halloween whenever possible. If students cannot answer each other’s questions, bring those unanswered questions to the class and see if another student can answer. If not, give them the answer yourself. Then follow up by having a class discussion asking what students learned today that they didn’t know before and what they think is most interesting about the holiday.
Tell Ghost Stories
Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Tales that keep us on the edge of our seats and make us jump are a staple for the spooky celebration of Halloween. Give your students a chance to tell their own ghost stories and see if they can send a shiver down their classmates’ spines. If you like, have your students read one or two ghost stories to see how the tales are told. Then sit your class in a circle and turn out the lights. Ask for a volunteer to tell a spooky story. If no one wants to be first, tell a story yourself. Take out a flashlight and place it under your chin as you tell the story. Stop at the spookiest point and ask students what they think will happen next. Anyone who wants to speak must hold the flashlight. After the discussion, take the flashlight back (or give it to the student telling the story) and finish the story. Bonus points if you can get your students to literally jump off their seats as you are telling your tale.
Halloween Catch Phrase
Have you played “Catch Phrase” with your students? It’s an amped up version of hot potato where each person has a word they need to get the rest of the players on their team to say before passing the potato on to the next player. To make a Halloween version of the game, write several Halloween themed words on index cards. You might include the following: candy, pumpkin, ghost, monster, costume, trick-or-treating, vampire, etc. (For more ideas, check out this great resource for Halloween vocabulary and definitions.) The more words you have in your stack, the better the game will be. You will want to have at least five words per person in your class. (An alternate way to set up the game is to write each word on a small slip of paper and then put all the slips, folded, into a bag. Players then draw a slip from the bag on their turn.) To start the game sit your students in a circle. Have them count off by twos, and these are the teams they will be playing with. Give a student all or part of the stack and start the timer. That person can say anything but the word on the card or a part of that word to get his teammates to say that word. Once someone on the team says it, the player with the cards passes them to the person on their left. That person puts the top card on the bottom of the stack and tries to get her team to say the word on the now top card. Play continues this way until the timer goes off. Whoever has the cards when the timer goes off loses the round for her team, and the other team scores a point. Play until one team has reached five points or whatever number you set before the game.
Monster in the House
In this fun party-style game, students will try to guess what monster they are in the context of a classroom “party.” To prepare for the activity, write the names of several different monsters on small slips of paper. (You might include ghost, Dracula, Frankenstein, werewolf, skeleton, and any other of your personal favorites.) Tape a monster slip of paper to each student’s back so they cannot see their monster but the other students can. Then let students mingle, asking each other yes/no questions about themselves, trying to guess the monster on their back. When a student correctly guesses his or her monster, she takes a seat.
For a fun improvisation on the above activity, assign all but one student a monster and let them see what monster they are. (You might want to play this game in groups of five or six at a time and let the rest of the class observe and enjoy.) The one person who has not been assigned a monster plays the role of party host. One at a time he welcomes the monsters to a party at his house. The monsters must act in character as if they were attending the party. The host, also acting in character, must guess what monster each of his guests is pretending to be. The game is over when the host figures out each of the monsters at his party.
The Ultimate Haunted Classroom
Have your students ever been to a haunted house? If they have, ask those students to share about the experience, or if no one has show a video such as this one on haunted houses. (Please preview the video before showing it to your students. Haunted houses are for mature audiences, and use your best judgement when it comes to showing videos and creating a haunted classroom with your class.) Then have students work together to create the best haunted classroom they can. As a class, discuss what would make your classroom a scary experience for visitors. Divide your classroom into different areas and assign each area to a group of students as well as a theme for their part of the room. Then have students work together to create your very own haunted classroom. You will need to provide materials for them to work with, but let their creativity soar. Then on another day invite other classes to come through your haunted classroom and see if your students can scare the studies out of their schoolmates.
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