That Morning Coffee

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Get Creative!

Have you ever looked at a lesson or a grammar book and thought ‘how on earth can we get through this without having a snore fest?’ Having taught many different ESL books, I’ve come to learn that teaching is 20% material and curriculum and 90% ingenuity and effort. Although I may be mathematically challenged, I absolutely meant 120% because teaching requires that extra ‘umph’.

Most books for lower intermediate levels to advanced levels focus on the four core skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Some books, lessons or topics don’t seem appealing or don’t make you feel like your students can relate. That’s where your biggest challenge as a teacher kicks in. I’ve come up with a few ways to pique your student’s interest and lighten the mood in class.

1. Try to introduce different grammar points in different ways. Don’t stick to the routine of giving examples and then explaining the mistakes. Simply typing up several sentences with mistakes on a sheet of paper and having students work in groups can introduce something new while allowing them to explore what they already know. Make it interesting to them by using their names in the sentences and making the examples about the class itself. Personalize it.

2. Make a reading activity more interactive. If a reading passage comes with a recording (as most ESL books do), you could type the reading passage and delete various words so that students have to listen carefully and write the words. You could have them work in groups first to try to guess what words would be fitting or even what kind of word they need (noun, adjective, verb…). Then play the recording and have them fill in the missing words. You could also put them in groups again to have them check the words and compare answers.

3. Have students talk about their writing mistakes. One method I’ve used when teaching writing to advanced students is having them do a collaborative essay. In other words, students could work together to create two different essays. I sometimes assign random topics to the students and ask them to write an introduction paragraph. Then I have them work in pairs to check each other’s introduction paragraphs. After that, I ask them to switch the paragraphs and write the body paragraphs as either homework or independent class work. Once they’re done, they work together to find mistakes and write conclusion paragraphs for each essay. This does take a lot of time but it’s helpful for higher intermediate levels who have just learned how to write an essay.

4. One way I get my students to move around, have fun and talk, talk, talk is by writing random and strange jobs on post-its and sticking one to each students head without letting them see what their card says. For example, I use things like dog walker, chocolate taster or animal masseuse. Then I have them walk around and try to figure out what their card says by listening to the students’ questions and what they have to say. The students should try to not be obvious and ask direct questions, but instead try to be elusive when conversation.

Whatever you’re teaching, a little innovation and creativity can make an ok lesson into an outstanding one. Just remember to make sure your games and activities have an actual learning value.

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1 Comment»

  Summer Season wrote @

Nice tips thanks


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