Activities

Teaching activities to try out in the classroom. For each one you will find a simple guide for preparation and procedure, and sometimes printable worksheets too.

Teaching Unplugged - Activities

If you’d like to have a first go at ‘Teaching Unplugged’ your aim is simply to get students to produce language and then to use the language they produce as the basis for your lesson.
The most important part of ‘Teaching Unplugged’ for the teacher is not how you generate the emergent language (that is the language that the students produce as they are talking) but what you do with the language.

Puzzle time

Thinking time - a puzzle

This is a motivating speaking activity for lower levels to develop fluency. Students are given plenty of support and use ‘thinking time’ before the speaking task. The lesson is usually successful with adults and teenagers because of the ‘puzzle’ element. The only materials you need are a box of cocktail sticks.

Kaleidescope - Belfast

Kaleidescope is a project that mixes video and original pieces of writing from well-known authors in three capital cities – Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh. The package consists of a piece of poetry or prose, which looks at the city from an insider’s point of view. A simple movie accompanies the writing to help the language learner understand lexical or cultural items that require explanation.

Kaleidescope - Cardiff

Kaleidescope is a project that mixes video and original pieces of writing from well-known authors in three capital cities – Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh. The package consists of a piece of poetry or prose, which looks at the city from an insider’s point of view. A simple movie accompanies the writing to help the language learner understand lexical or cultural items that require explanation.

Kaleidescope - Edinburgh

Kaleidescope is a project that mixes video and original pieces of writing from well-known authors in three capital cities – Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

Motivating speaking activities for lower levels

These activities are all designed to motivate lower level learners to speak in pairs or small groups.

Megabridges

This jigsaw-viewing activity is based on two video clips from National Geographic’s Mega-structures series

Writing poems with ‘Spark’

“Writing poems? No, this wouldn’t work with my students!” If you feel skeptical about getting your students to try their hand at composing poems or songs in class, try this activity.

Word Family Framework

The Word Family Framework (WFF) places 22,000 words on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Playing with lexical cards

Very often students know the meaning of a word but don’t know how to use it correctly. This is often because they don’t know what words go with what other words, i.e. collocations.

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Poetic introductions / A picture game

One way to introduce vocabulary could be having your students write poems.

Sitcom activity: creating a sitcom

This activity is suitable for intermediate level students and above. Students create a new sitcom in groups.

An Interview with Sir Peter

This activity is based on the real story of Merhan Karimi Nasseri, who found himself unable to leave Charles de Gaulle airport in France, but became a popular subject for TV and newspaper interviews. It is a pair-work speaking, listening, reading and writing exercise for students who are at a good intermediate level or above.

Vocabulary phonemic revision activity

I am a great believer in teaching phonetic script with new words, alongside their spelling, stress patterns and L1 equivalents.

Have you ever...?

This activity practises ‘have you ever...? to talk about life experiences. It is student led in terms of the content and is satisfying as a result.

Elementary podcasts

This is a simple listening activity that can be used with adults and secondary groups, and is based on LearnEnglish Elementary Podcasts. There is a lead-in activity that students can do in class and then a follow on task that can be done in class or set as homework.

Listening activities for songs

Here are some tried and tested ideas I get my students to do when listening to a pop song. Activities need not require hours of preparation time and some of the best activities are spontaneous and simple. Below are a few suggestions. They are categorised into pre-listening, while listening and after listening activities.

Understanding dialogues

These are two simple listening activities which test students' understanding of two dialogues.

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'The Washing Line' - teaching clothes vocabulary

This is a good vocabulary activity to use with younger learners.

'Wall dictionary'

This is a good way to help kids learn and review their vocabulary. It really helps them with the alphabet and spelling.

A business letter

In this activity, learners attempt to re-write an inappropriately informal business letter in a more appropriate, formal style.

A class magazine

Class projects can be an excellent way to focus the whole class and get them working together towards a common goal.

A class survey

Doing surveys can be a useful way of getting your students to interact, produce question forms and collect and analyse real information.

A creative writing activity: A dark and stormy night

This is an idea I learned when I first started teaching and still use to this day. The main focus of the activity is on developing writing skills, but it's also good for developing listening and reading skills and also for practising past tenses and descriptive vocabulary.

A Perfect story

The present perfect is a tense that many students have problems with. Most course books provide only controlled grammar sentences where students choose the correct tense.

A Reading Task and Role Play

Here is an activity to challenge the students' reading skills at intermediate level and give them controlled speaking practice in a role play. The learners have to put a jumbled conversation into the correct order and can then act it out in pairs. The conversation takes place in a Travel Agent's.

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