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.

Storytelling response tasks

Response tasks are designed to give students the chance to express themselves creatively and openly, not for comprehension checking.

Teaching students the shortest tale

This is one of the quickest ways I know of teaching a tale and boosting students’ confidence in themselves as storytellers.

Vision off – YouTube technique

This YouTube activity really gets your students thinking creatively. A short film is played for the students, but they can’t see the scene, they can only hear it. Students guess what happens in the scene before they get to view it to check their deductions.

The Turing Test

Alan Turing proposed a test inspired by a party game known as the 'Imitation Game', in which a man and a woman go into separate rooms, and guests try to tell them apart by writing a series of questions and reading the typewritten answers the man and the woman send back.

Who does what? – YouTube technique

In this YouTube-based activity, students watch a scene from an animated film and observe the actions performed by characters. The activity is suitable for low level students (primary school) since the focus here is not on listening.

Ask and imagine the story

This is a story-telling activity which involves the whole class, and may be used with adult or younger learners.

Pause & predict – YouTube technique

This YouTube activity is quite simple and can be used with a variety of YouTube videos especially those from Mr. Bean. This clip is a great introduction to the theme of travel and can help students practise prediction e.g. ‘I think he’ll pack his teddy bear’ or ‘ He’s definitely going to forget his suitcase’.

Goodbye game

This activity is great for last lessons of a course, but could be used in other contexts too. It is influenced by an idea from Headway Pre-Intermediate.

Using songs in the classroom

This is from a song workshop I gave some time ago. Take care with the copyright!

Inventions

This is a fun speaking activity in the form of a game. It can be used with most levels and most age groups. Students practise presenting their opinions and reaching agreement. There is an initial group work activity and extension speaking and writing activities.

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Family tree

It's amazing how students can't stop telling their friends about themselves. I introduced my class of second-language learners to the family tree and the different relationships between people in the family - in-laws, step-family, cousins, paternal and maternal sides etc. even terms like widow, widower and divorcee.

Same sound, different sound

This is an activity for more advanced students. It is diagnostic because it reveals the mental picture of English sounds that students have.

Daily routines

This is a writing and speaking activity using the silent-method to practise vocabulary of daily routine, present simple and telling the time.

Video lesson 2

Documentary programmes

The longest time

This is a speaking exercise for pre-intermediate level learners and above. It practises the use of the ‘present perfect' to talk about something (an activity or state) that starts in the past and continues now. It could be used to introduce this area or to provide further general practice later.

Gap fill poems

I like to use this activity to introduce poetry into the classroom and to raise learners' awareness of the beauty and fun to be had with poetry. It can also be used to practise learners' pronunciation.

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.

Telephone number pronunciation

This activity practises discrete vowel sounds. It practises both speaking and listening skills. It works well in pairs or in groups and usually generates lots of fun.

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Amazing facts

This activity is designed to be used as a warmer for Intermediate level learners. It could be used to generate interest in amazing facts as a lead in to a lesson using comparatives and superlatives.

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.

Anna's wet day out

Planning a simple composition
This activity trains young learners to plan a very simple story by looking at the brainstorming process prior to writing, then allowing them to select ideas, and guiding them to the actual writing of the story through a clearly staged plan.

ARM exercises - speaking activity to wake up a sleepy class

This is a great way to start a lesson with a free-speaking activity. I call it ‘ARM exercises’ which is simply short for Accept, Reject or Modify statements.

Artists as immigrants

This activity attempts to challenge some of the preconceptions that people often have about immigrants by looking at a group of artists that have emigrated and exploring some of the challenges they have faced. The activity is based on themes and images from the OPENCities project: www.opencities.eu

Ask and imagine the story

This is a story-telling activity which involves the whole class, and may be used with adult or younger learners.

Big City Small World

This is a fun listening activity that can be used with adults and secondary groups. It exploits the Big City Small World audio soap from LearnEnglish.

Bingo mingle

In the event you have students who are stressed out or just plain bored by the dull approach to teaching grammar, there's a game you can play that will lure students into a communication approach to what is being taught.

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