Summary game – Make cards for different categories you’ve taught and spread them out, then set out objects or pictures representing words from each category. Children in turn choose an object/picture, say the word and place it in the proper category. You can also call out words and have them run to the proper card.
Another good activity to refresh their memories is “Name that Tune”. Play or sing a few notes of a song they learned and see who can guess first.
Review Weather and Seasons with an emphasis on “hot” and “summer” (yes, I know it’s still raining) – sing The Weather Rock, play the game hot-cold, sort out objects and clothes by season.
Swimming, Swimming – one of my favorite camp songs. I wish I had written it, but since I didn’t this is the best clip I could find on YouTube https://youtu.be/HeMOaMwTgp0
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream – Familiar to many and easy to teach if students repeat after you. Emphasize the difference between “I scream” and “ice cream”.
Give students a certificate of completion to show that they have “graduated” and can speak English.
End-of-the-Year celebration – My book English is Fun on the Stage contains short playscripts that can be performed by students. You can also put together your own, or just have them sing some of their favorite songs.
Hopefully you and your students have had a fun year. Finishing on a high note will help them remember it that way.
- Keep them active. Kids need to move.
- Be friendly and patient. Everyone learns at their own pace.
- Children learn by hearing, seeing and doing.
- Avoid translating whenever possible. Use props, pictures or gestures instead. The disadvantages of translation can fill another blog post.
- Make it fun. They more they enjoy English, the more they’ll learn now and in the future.
Last week I attended the ETAI (English Teachers’ Association of Israel) National Conference. In addition to the wide variety of lectures and workshops, we were given a chance to ask a panel, student-style, questions beginning with “Why bother”. Most of us added “when…” such as “Why bother coming to a conference when we can meet online?” (short answer – the importance of face to face contact). Sometimes the most logical answer was “Don’t bother”, but one question really bothered me and I wish I had been able to answer –
“Why bother having an English Day when my colleagues don’t cooperate?”
Honestly, I barely see a connection between the two clauses (a word I picked up substituting in formal English classes). We don’t have English Days for our colleagues, we have them for our students. English Day is a chance for students to have a positive experience in English, and no matter what activities you choose they probably will learn something. It’s a way to show them English as a spoken language and culture in a relaxed atmosphere. Whether they perform on stage, make crafts or play games, they will have achievements to remember that aren’t graded.
It’s unfortunate that there are teachers who aren’t willing to put in the extra effort to do something special for their students, but don’t let that stop you from doing your best.
Why bother teaching at all? Why bother preparing interesting activities, paying extra attention to students who are struggling as well as those who want to be challenged more, and making sure that everyone understands before you continue? If you do this to impress your colleagues, you will probably be disappointed by their reactions. But if you do everything you can to help your students, in the long run your efforts will pay off and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you made a difference.
And when your colleagues see this, they may decide in the future to join you.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Many students are afraid to speak or even write because they may make a mistake. Before these students can learn anything we must create a safe atmosphere where mistakes are an acceptable and necessary part of learning. If the President of the United States can’t spell but isn’t afraid to send out messages that will be seen by the whole world, no one should be afraid to make mistakes in our classrooms. See what I wrote about this in my previous post What if I make a mistake?
- Pretend the mistakes are intentional. Years ago, a teacher I was working with showed me a test she was about to give to her class. She suddenly realized that there were spelling errors in the text (the test had been prepared by another teacher) and she wasn’t sure what to do. I suggested that she use them. Tell the class that there are some mistakes in the text, and that they will receive a bonus for each one they find. Double bonus if they know the correct spelling.
- Find different options. When Trump said that Ted Cruz is a chocker, did he mean joker, choker, shocker or something else? Honer is probably honor, but what else could it be?
- Come up with some definitions for Trump’s new words. For example: unpresidented – never been done by a president, Bobby Night – a night when everyone dresses up as Bobby.
- Have a debate. How important is spelling? Should spelling be a necessary qualification for public office? Has social media made spelling errors more acceptable?