June 16

How was your weekend? #3

This idea uses a Total Gapfill for teens to guess about what you did this weekend. It teaches them to think about sentence structure and provides a fun start to the week! Divide them into teams and perhaps give them a couple of clue words.

___ ______ _____ __ ___ _ BBQ ____ ____ _______. ____, __ ________ __ ____ __ _ ______’_ _____ ___ ______ Trivial Pursuit __ Spanish.

The answer is…

On Friday night we had a BBQ with some friends. Then, on Saturday we went to a friend’s house and played Trivial Pursuit in Spanish.

May 11

How was your weekend? #2

This is a fun activity from my colleague Steve, which works well with teens. Write up a sentence on the board about your weekend, but don’t include any vowels. When the students have guessed what you did, ask them to write a sentence themselves, then invite them up to the board individually.

Can you guess what I did this weekend?

n Frdy nght wnt t Cdz t s bnd.
n Strdy my byfrnd nd wnt shppng.
Ystrdy w hd brbc n th trrc bcs t ws vry snny nd ht.

April 30

How was your weekend? #1

I always take an interest in my students’ lives (positive strokes and all that) and so every Monday / Tuesday I ask them about their weekend. In the series “How was your weekend?” I’ll be giving you a range of ideas for how to ask students about the weekend.

How was your weekend? #1

I have a student who really does seem to have a very boring life. Every Monday when I ask him about his weekend, he shrugs his shoulders and makes a sound which is something along the lines of “nada” (nothing in Spanish). He doesn’t enjoy speaking anyway, and so made the mistake of thinking that telling me he had done nothing would make me pass quickly to the next student.

Off went the lights, out came the torch (in the cupboard in case of a powercut) and the interrogation began.

“Did you watch TV?”
“What channels did you you watch?”
“Were you watching a film or a documentary?”
“Where was the documentary set? Was it in Spain? Was it on a beach, in the city or in the mountains?”
“Was it about animals, a person or a historical event?”

The interrogation-style questioning was fun for all and although it was still a bit of a challenge to get more than the most basic answer out of him, at least I discovered that he did slightly more than “nada” all weekend.

March 31

That Warm, Fuzzy Feeling

Recently I went to a TESOL Convention and learned that the average child receives 75 positive comments daily. This positive recognition can come from a variety of sources, both external (parents, friends, teachers) and internal, and can be verbal or physical : a smile, a quick “Hello” in the corridor, a congratulatory comment when they answer a question correctly. It’s nice to think that just by smiling and welcoming each student individually we are adding to their positive self-image.
Unfortunately, at the same time as our children are being showered with these 75 positive comments, they are also receiving an incredible 460 negative comments per day. Now that is scary, because bearing in mind that students spend the majority of their waking hours at school, a large number of these will come from teachers, and will generally be unconscious actions. I can think of some which I’m guilty of, can you?

So, what positive steps can we take to encourage a warm, fuzzy feeling in our students?

  • Show interest in each student at the start of every lesson : say “Hello” to each student in turn or ask them how their day has been so far
  • Give positive feedback as often as possible, not only when students complete an activity
  • Try to avoid negative comments when correcting : if a student gets a question wrong, give them encouragement rather than punishment
  • When you have to punish students, do it individually : you’ll limit the negative recognition to just the student involved rather than affecting the whole class
  • Watch the tone of your voice, even when you’re getting desperate
  • …and most importantly, smile