If moving to another country teaches you anything, it is that you can always learn more. About yourself, your language, your culture, your relationships, and even your profession.
I still have a lot to learn. But as of now, I have taught in preschools, in elementary schools, and (newly) in high schools here in Spain. I have taught private classes with every level, infants to adults. I've taught Science, P.E., Art, and even Math in the English language, in addition to English classes.
In Spain, I've had some of the best English teachers as tutors, most excellent resources, and great determination to better myself in my craft. Here is a mezcla of activities and ideas I use for my students.
My very first students in Spain
Hello in the hallways
Most importantly for me, none of my students know I speak Spanish. Because otherwise they will say "Hola!" to me in the hallway, ask me to translate something in class, and miss out on opportunities that will help them learn.
I always tell them, "No, I can't speak it. But I can understand...so be careful!"
The 4 Components
Reading. Writing. Listening. Speaking.
Connecting all four of the elements into any lesson will absolutely give you the best result. While learning Spanish here, I read or hear the word, repeat it, and then write it down. Then once I learn the meaning, I use it later on in the day, someway or somehow.
Activities you do with students should involve as many options as you can, if nothing else, just to be repetitive and make the language stick.
An English activity
You can make a song out of anything, and you don't have to carry a tune. Low level
You can pretty much make up things as you go along, and no one will ever notice. I just sing something to make it sound more fun, and make movements to match.
What's the weather like today? to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Prepositions to the tune of Three Blind Mice
Days of the week to the tune of the Adams FamilyIntermediate Level
I either begin or end every private lesson (for elementary students) with the Beatles. I always begin the year with the youtube video "Hello Goodbye"
and later progress to Yellow Submarine, All you Need is Love, or other titles. We play freeze dance to the song and when they are out they watch the lyrics go by on screen.High level
Print out the lyrics and talk about them. Cut each line of lyrics and scramble them, having the students put them back in the order they belong after listening to the song several times. Open a youtube video and watch an English speaking singer and talk about the music video. Discuss your favorite band or give updates about music news.All levels
You can use premade songs that are helpful to learn information in English: The alphabet song, the days of the week, months of the year, and something I learned to use last year called Jolly Phonics
, which sings a little rhyme with the sound of each letter. I even use Jolly phonics for adult private lessons, and we have so much fun acting like children and singing strange rhymes about phonics.
Dress Up for El Camino de Santiago
Games, games, and more games:
When you enjoy, you learn. All games can be adjusted to different levels. Use basic vocabulary for lower levels, and sentences or grammar usage for older students.
-TP Game: Take a roll of TP and have the students pass it around and tear it off. Then use however many sheets they have for them to do a part of the activity. (Name vocab words, say sentences about a topic, find a # of words in English that start with a certain letter, etc.) After you play it once, they'll know next time what you're doing, so change it up half way through the year by playing it again by saying however many sheets of paper are left at the end of the roll is how many words/sentences/etc. they have to come up with.
-Who is who?: Write the name of a famous person on the board with one student's back turned. The class must give clues about the person or the student must ask questions about the person to guess who they are. With smaller groups you can play by sticking a paper to their forehead and having them guess. You can also play this with nationalities, countries, animals, cartoons or anything you can describe.
-A to Z: Write the alphabet vertically on the two-sides of the blackboard. Split the class into 2 teams and have them write as many words as they can think of in English. Winning team has more, or finishes first. To make it easier, use categories like 'only sports words', etc. Great for smaller groups on individual sheets of paper.
-Chain words: First student starts with a word, next student must say a word beginning with the last letter of the word before. Example: wateR, RicE, ElephanT, TigeR, etc. Make it harder by using sentences and giving the students a time limit.
We had American penpals from Orlando, Florida!
-Charades: You know the game. Easy to play as a time filler and has them speaking in English.
-Busy Bees: Students must buzz around the classroom like bees until you yell at a category and say "Stop." They must freeze like the category (animals, sports, classroom items, etc.) and shape their body in the way the item is shaped. No moving, and no repeating, or they sit down.
-Basketball: Split class into 2 teams (or more, depending). Review whatever you need to teach by putting the trashcan in the middle of the room and having students throw a crumbled up piece of paper into the can before they can go to the board and write the answer. Or they have to say the answer and then make a shot into the basket before they can receive a point.
-What's changed?: Have one student leave the room and move something from it. He has to ask questions to figure out what is different.
-Alphabet Stencil Race: 2 lines of students, with the leader at the front of the blackboard. The last student in each line writes a letter on the student in front of him with his finger, passing it all the way to the front until the first person can write the correct letter on the board.
-Air writing: One student stands and writes a vocabulary word from that week in the air, others have to guess what it is. Can also be done on eachother's backs, arms, etc.
-Name Six: One student stands outside a circular group of the rest of the students. They must name a certain number of items in a category before the group of people passing around a ball in the center. For example, a student says "Name six types of flying animals before I do." And the center group passes a ball around trying to say the animals before the person outside the circle writes them all on the board.
The best thing of ALL is none of these games require preparation.
Facepaint and Poster-making for St. Patty's Day
Crafts, crafts, and more crafts are absolutely the easiest way to celebrate any holiday. But for me, I enjoy teaching more than coloring and cutting.
Halloween: Trick or treat with English. Explain the American tradition of trick-or-treating and have students use their vocabulary or review for a test by going trick or treating for English words around the room, or setting up different areas where they must answer a question correctly in English before they get a treat for their bag.
Thanksgiving: Create a reenactment of the First Thanksgiving in your class with a script or props.
Christmas: Secret Santa with compliments instead of gifts.
St. Patrick's Day: Make posters about different traditions and where they come from. Do a scavenger hunt with English topics using pieces of paper shaped like Shamrocks.
Easter: Color and hide easter eggs for an easter egg hunt. Or use fake eggs with English phrases inside.
Someone told me once that the best teacher isn't always creative, but ALWAYS resourceful. No matter the country, time zone, or language!