In this post, Mihaela looks at some useful ideas for starting the lesson.


Teacher: ‘Sooo… how are you, guys?’
(disinterested, sleepy) students: ‘Tiiiired.’
(eager) teacher: ‘ What did you do last weekend’?
(tired) students: ‘Noooothing (special).’

You can avoid those scenarios by drawing inspiration from the recent news, and I’d like to share a few examples. The following ideas have been tried and tested in class and received positive feedback among adult learners from lower to advanced levels, because they

- Bring variety to every class
- Are meaningful to students
- Deviate from the coursebook
- Activate students
- Represent a natural transition at the beginning of the lesson

Plus, few things make teachers happier than starting a lesson on a good foot. Low-prep and adaptable, they usually take up to 15 min, depending on the group ‘vibe’. While some emergent language (grammar, vocab or pronunciation) might naturally come up, these are not language-focused activities but rather warm-up conversational activities.

Every time I want to start a lesson this way I simply think about either what has been happening in the city/country/world lately (hello, Internet) or choose an International Day of… from a bunch of ideas here: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/ . In any case, make sure you avoid negative pieces of news. So, at the beginning of a lesson I use visuals almost every time, showing them a photo or two (sometimes a short video) and give them a brief speaking task to do in pairs or small groups after which we have a content feedback. Below you’ll find the visuals and the tasks on three different topics:

BUY NOTHING DAY (the day after Thanksgiving)

Think of 5 tips for shopaholics on this day (lower levels)

5 ways consumerism can be escaped (higher levels)


INTERNATIONAL NECKTIE DAY

Make a list of 3 most stylish and 3 least stylish celebrities! (lower levels)

Clothes make the man => agree or disagree? (higher levels)


TRAFFIC NEWS

Put the three pictures in a sequence so that they tell a story (lower levels)

Think of 2 cheap and 2 innovative transport solutions for our city (higher levels)

Please note that these are only examples and that the most important thing to always have in mind are students’ levels, interests and group dynamics. For some groups it’s enough to give only one photo or a quote and they ‘wake up’, other groups need an extra push. Whatever it is, they always appreciate this type of a class warm-up and they are activated for another hour or two.

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