It’s easy to get excited about the back-to-school of September. You’re rested after the summer, the weather is still good and you’re full of enthusiasm for a new school year. Back to school in January, however, is a different story. You’re getting out of bed in the dark, you’re still nursing a Christmas holiday hangover and the next six months seem like a long, hard slog.
But don’t worry! If you’re short on inspiration, here are some ideas to add into the mix to make the start of your classes more exciting for you and for your students!
Prepare some vocabulary (no need to get fancy, you could just write down ten words on strips of paper before class) and then get your students to play Articulate – describe what the word is without actually using it. It works well as a vocabulary review from the previous class, or as a way to introduce the topic of the lesson you’re about to teach. This can be adapted to a wide variety of ages and levels, and you can use a timer to up the energy levels on a slow morning!
Write the following sentences on the board:
One of us ________
Two of us ________
Three of us ________
Four of us ________
Split the class into groups and get them to complete the sentences for their group. Then their classmates have to guess who did what when they read their sentences out loud. It’s a good way to make a “what did you do at the weekend” warm-up a bit more communicative and interesting!
Draw a line graph on the board of your mood over the weekend from Friday night to Sunday night, with peaks for going out with friends and troughs for housework or Sunday night blues. The students have to guess what you did based on the graph, eg. She might have gone dancing on Saturday night, she must have had a hangover on Sunday morning. Once they’ve made their guesses, you tell them what the graph represents and see who was closest, then they make their own graphs and repeat the activity in groups!
A good warm-up for students to do in pairs. Give them a comic strip with blank speech bubbles and get them to fill in the blanks to create a conversation between the characters. There are lots of printable strips with empty speech bubbles online. You can also photocopy them and get younger students to colour in the panels as a fun activity at the end of class.
Designate each corner of the room with “I strongly agree”, “I agree”, “I disagree” or “I strongly disagree”, and then write a statement up on the board. It can be as simple – Blue cheese is disgusting – or as controversial – I think Catalunya should be independent – as you like. Then get students to share their reasons for agreeing/disagreeing in one sentence.
What’s your favourite way to start off an English class?