When you've been asked to cover a lesson at short notice, where can you look?

Here are four of my favourite no-prep activities and links from other people’s blogs, plus a book full of great ideas for you to be inspired by.

Post 1: Laura Patsko’s last-minute lesson

This lesson involves students getting to know more about their classmates, in the process speaking at . All of the questions that prompt the conversation are student-generated, and it can be used at any level or with any type of group, for example business students or those preparing for an exam. Depending on the students’ choice of questions, it can also lead to more of a focus on a particular language area, or some further writing work to summarise their discussions.

Post 2: Ceri Jones’ Alphabet game

This is a lesson I’ve used many times. It works with most levels from pre-intermediate upwards, and with anyone from young teens and above. The whole thing is based on topics generated from a letter of the alphabet chosen by the students. They are encouraged to speak for one or two minutes continuously, and can also record their speaking to reflect on their performance. As with Laura’s lesson, it can also lead to language work and/or written consolidation.
Post 3: Charles du Parc’s life saver lesson
All you need for this lesson is a piece of paper for each group. The topics and vocabulary the lesson is built around are entirely student-generated. They create collaborative mind maps of vocabulary, then use these to have discussions, do presentations, play vocabulary games…anything you like! It can also be a useful diagnostic or revision lesson.

Post 3: Charles du Parc’s life saver lesson

All you need for this lesson is a piece of paper for each group. The topics and vocabulary the lesson is built around are entirely student-generated. They create collaborative mind maps of vocabulary, then use these to have discussions, do presentations, play vocabulary games…anything you like! It can also be a useful diagnostic or revision lesson.

Post 4: FlashmobELT

This is a collection of ideas from teachers around the world, which you’re invited to add to. All of the lessons/activities are designed to be adaptable to any teaching situation and to require very little preparation or technology. They cover a range of different skills, and should also lead you to more interesting blogs and blogposts. You can find out more about the Flashmob ELT movement on Ann Loseva’s blog.

The book: 700 Classroom Activities by David Seymour and Maria Popova

This book is divided into four sections: Conversation, Functions, Vocabulary and Grammar. Each section is then further broken down by topic or language point, with a variety of activities for each. A simple key shows you the levels the activity is most suitable for, and there are suggestions for how to use some activities with higher or lower levels too. Some activities cover more controversial topics, and these are clearly marked with a ‘danger’ sign. None of the activities require much preparation and most can be taught directly from the book if you’re very short of time. It has a clear index and it’s very easy to find something suitable for your class. I use it regularly and think it should be in every teacher’s library!

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