8 Ideas to work on your language classes when you don’t have any.

kasjdnfñakjsd.001Of course we like to be good teachers, prepare the best lessons for our students and get good educational outcomes. But if we want that, it is essential to have resources, materials.

However, although we have plenty of motivation to plan a lesson, we have to address a lack of creativity or, the most common one, time. Moreover, It has happened to me where I have had to cover a lesson at the very last minute or complete the lesson sooner that I expected.

Furthermore, it’s true that you can find many resources online, but selecting from that amount of information also take a while. As a result, I have found it fairly useful to save those useful websites that I find to make them accessible in seconds when needed, and to have a list of simple wildcard activities, helpful at almost every level.

Having this collection of pages will greatly facilitate our task of planning and improvisation: students finish their work earlier than expected, we turn to one of our links, we have to cover a teacher that morning, we turn to one of our links.

In this post, I want to collate some of the basic activities and useful links in order to bail you out.

1. THE COMIC.The comic as an educational resource can be very enriching. Submitting a “silent” comic strip to students can lead to amazingly different dialogue between the characters and fantastic stories, all from the same resource. Capturing the interest of students with a given subject can be highly effective if we use the comic as a classroom resource.

I always have a few blank comic strips in my folder for my language lessons because it has infinite possibilities, develops creativity and can adapt to any age. It is my star resource, you can extend it as much as you need. As you can see bellow, the comic allows a chain of endless questions, which will help us to fill the time we require:

  • Invent a story line with those scenes.
  • Discuss the succession of events. What happens before and what happens next?
  • Describe what you see in each picture. What do you think the character is doing? Why?
  • Imagine what action takes place between 2 pictures.
  • Why are the character there?
  • List the vocabulary. For example, if the character is eating, we can ask our student about what kind of food and drink. What is their favorite food?, Where is this meal typical? What do you know about that country?…
  • Focus on the action. If the character is singing, then what kind of music do you think he is listening to? What kind of music do you like? How often? What are you doing when you listen to music? etc.

Bitstrips is a website to create your own comic. You can change backgrounds and chose a character, to which you can define facial expressions, posture, gesture, finger position, etc. I loved discovering this product!

2. FLASH CARDS.  Can be used for any topic – it can be as complex or as a basic as you need – and works with images. You can merely teach vocabulary, ask questions or ask pupils to describe what they see. Therefore, the same images can be used for different levels of learning. I mention below some of the most typical topics:

Professions, animals, clothes, weather, numbers, colours, transport, body parts, expressions (surprise, tiredness, happiness, anger …), class materials, food, beverages, hobbies, actions, the class rules (be quiet, raise your hand, do not touch …) daily routines (waking up, eat breakfast, brush teeth, go to school …), concepts (full-empty, near-far, long-short…), etc.

3. DRAWING-NARRATION. That is to say, telling a short a story using the vocabulary that is being studied. Student should draw our description. For instance:

«Once upon a time two sisters who lived in a very small house with their cat. The front door to the house, however, was very large and was painted yellow … »

In just a couple of lines we have already reviewed part of: family members, colors, animals, sizes and elements of a house (door).

4. STORIES AND FABLES. What better way to spend the time left in class than reading. However, in this case we should choose a story according to our student ages. Especially, we can keep the attention of our students if instead of reading the whole story ourselves, we indicate who should read the next paragraph. This keeps them silent and focussed on the activity.

5. SONGS. Listening to songs will help us, among other benefits, to strengthen and learn new vocabulary and improve our listening. The most common activity is to remove some of the lyrics of the song and ask the children to fill in the gaps.

6. SPELLING. Spelling words that have been worked on can be fun. The children can become quite engrossed in this if you give each student a sheet of paper or a whiteboard and start dictating word by word. To reward their involvement, invite a student who has written the word correctly, to write it on the board (as the teacher). You can do spelling online as well:

7. DICTATION. A teaching technique which improves, amongst other things, misspellings. You can dictate exactly from a given text or you can improvise the dictation.

8. WORKSHEETS. Select any worksheet already prepared according to the level of your students.

TIP!  keep the links that you find useful!

Ainoa Cano