Thursday, January 7, 2010

Too cool for school.

I have middle school classes again. Not only do they suck, but they're useless—45 minutes a week with a foreign teacher isn't going to improve these kids' English, especially when they'd rather chatter in Korean instead of doing any work.

But since I'm such a good employee I want to make the slowest 45 minutes of my day go a bit faster, I've been browsing the gargantuan ESL Cafe website, namely the Idea Cookbook for games or activities to try and get them to speak. These might be useful for you other EFL teachers out there, if you haven't already cribbed some of these:

Greatest Bad Ideas:

First take about 30 queue cards and write hypothetical "problems" on them (eg. "My winter coat is not warm enough", "I can`t afford to pay my rent", "My cat makes me sneeze", or something more absurd like "My doctor scares me").
Explain to your students that you need their advice, but that they should avoid giving you obvious advice, and try instead to give you strange or stupid advice. Provide examples like: "If your winter coat is not warm enough, you should pour hot coffee in the pockets"; "If your pants are too big you should gain 50 pounds by only eating cake"; "If your nose is too big you should have surgery to make the rest of your face bigger", etc.

The Lying Game:

Each student (and Instructor) has to create three lies about themselves and one truth. A grid is placed on the board with the Students names in rows going across, and lies/truth 1 to 4 going down. The students then tell their 4 facts and after all of the grid is filled, the "Interogation phase" begins. The students one by ask questions to the subject, trying to discover whether he is lying or not. It requires focused listening skills and lying well requires a high level of speaking ability. The Winner is the one whom nobody guesses his truth. Second place goes to the one guesses most of the truths.

Hog the Brownie:

If you have seen the film "Notting Hill", one of the nicest scenes is when Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) is having dinner with William (Hugh Grant) and his group of friends. At coffee time, there is only one brownie left and Max says he will give the last brownie to the saddest act. Therefore one by one, they make an effort to get the brownie by telling how sad their lives are. Everybody laughs and is grief-stricken at the same time, so it could be funny to try it in the classroom. Some pupils can be very good actors and actresses. Besides you can work in groups.

Tic Tac Toe:
Draw a tic-tac-toe grid on the chalk board. Write the numbers 1 through 9 on the grid. Each square has one number in it. Then on a piece of paper write nine easy conversation questions such as -Whats your hobby?, What time is it?, How old are you? etc. Number the questions one through nine. Each question corresponds to one square on the tic tac toe grid. Divide the class into two teams, team x and team o. The students choose which square on the tic tac toe grid they want to try to get. When they choose a number then ask them the corresponding question. They get the x or o on that square if they answer the question WITH NO MISTAKES. The pickier you are with this one the more fun it is.

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