Posted on November 27, 2018 | By Jo Bearcroft
27th Nov 2018
If you’re kept awake at night by the fear of having thirty TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) students staring mutely back at you, worry no more. We’ve put together our top fun activities that will get even the quietest TEFL class talking!
Find someone who…
This activity is great both as a TEFL warmer and to get students talking to each other during a vocabulary lesson.
Level: All levels as you can adapt the language to fit the class.
Why not try: Using this activity to start a debate in higher level classes by giving a challenge such as “Find someone who doesn’t eat meat” or “Find someone who hasn’t used public transport this week”.
Why we love it: This is a way to get students talking to people they don’t know in a relaxed environment.
This is a brilliant activity that really gets TEFL students talking. It works particularly well as part of a lesson on body parts, colours or adjectives – but you can adapt it to other topics by changing the pictures you use.
In the lesson
Level: This activity works best with lower-level classes – but it can be a fun refresher at all stages.
Why not try: Using photos of students in your class. It can be a fantastic way for the class to get to know each other – plus creates even more fun as the students look at the photos.
Why we love it: This is a fun, flexible activity, which you can either use as a simple warmer or to break up a vocabulary lesson about body parts.
There’s loads of brilliant alphabet games out there – just think back to those “I went to the supermarket and I bought…” activities from your childhood for you’ll get some great ideas. However, Alphabet Sentences is probably our favourite of all as it makes the class giggle and focus hard. A fantastic combination!
Level: Intermediate level or above
Why not try: Picking a letter midway through the alphabet to start – or even letting students use the letters in any order, as long as they only have one word per letter.
Why we love it: The creative nonsense of this game takes the pressure off students who are scared of saying the wrong thing but it also requires everyone to work together and use vocabulary to complete the task.
This is a great activity that can work for all levels – simply adapt the language and topic to the level of your students.
Level: This activity works with all levels as you can adapt the topic, language and length of interview time to match the class.
Why not try: Adapting the activity to a higher-level class by focusing on a topic that could cause debate – such as ways to improve the environment or what they would do if they were in charge of the country. It’s a great way to springboard into a full class activity on the subject.
Why we love it: Students find it far easier to talk if they’re only speaking to one other person. By the time they report back, they’ve already practised the language in a relaxed environment – and the pressure stays off, as they’re repeating their partner’s words rather than their own.
Can I change your mind?
This activity is a fantastic way to challenge higher-level students to present persuasive arguments in English. You might need to push aside some desks before you start to create a bit of space.
Level: This activity works best with intermediate and advanced level students, as they need sufficient English language skills to develop and respond to the arguments.
Why not try: Speed debates. Set a timer for two minutes. Each person gets a maximum of 10 seconds to make their point and the debate ends when the timer goes off.
Why we love it: Debates are a brilliant way to focus students on their choice of words and find ways to communicate their points even if they don’t know every single piece of vocabulary.
Show and tell
We love this activity as it requires very little preparation and lets students talk about something that directly interests them – win-win! You can use it across a series of lessons with a couple of students showing their object each time, or as a one-off activity with the full class sharing their object in small groups.
Level: This can work for any level by adapting the length of the presentation and the level of questions asked.
Why not try: Centring the task on a specific topic that is relevant to the lesson. For example, if you’re studying food why not ask students to each bring in their favourite fruit or pudding. You can then end the class with everyone sampling it!
Why we love it: Children in particular love sharing something they like or have done. It can be a great way to promote confidence – and for you to learn a little more about your students.
Soft ball chat
This is a great interactive activity that you can use as a warmer or to break up a lesson. It gets students moving around and ensures all students have a chance to speak in a fun, unpressured environment.
Level: This activity works with all levels as you can modify the statement to make it appropriate for the class. For example, in a higher-level class you might use “If I was Prime Minister I would…”
Why not try: Modifying the activity to practise vocabulary. You start by giving a word and the student who receives the ball has to think of another word linked to it. As long as it’s vaguely related, they’re okay! The student who now has the beanbag then throws it to another student who has to do the same.
We love this activity because… With a beanbag flying across the classroom, students focus on catching it and forget the pressure of having to speak.