Start your lesson with a light, easy, "colorful" activity to get the attention of the students before getting to the nitty-gritty of your lesson.
Quick rounds of conversation are always effective, but another idea is to give the students a visual prompt such as a picture, a piece of colored paper with vocabulary, suggestion, joke or other written prompt you may have to start the lesson. If all the colors are different, the students may think that each student has something different, creating curiosity. The handing out of something to each student is very inclusive and inviting. Each student knows that he or she will be expected to give some kind of answer or comment.
You can use this kind of warm up pre grammar, writing, reading or speaking classes.
A great website for news articles on three levels for esl learners is http://www.newsinlevels.com/. Articles can be read online or teachers can choose and print out copies for their classes.
For long-term assignments or daily journals, students can use this site to keep up-to-date with news as well as learn suitable vocabulary to discuss recent new events.
Have students create their own personal dictionary. This can be a homework assignment, or a long term assignment with a deadline. The dictionary can be theme based, such as "words connected to sealife", "words connected to a hobby of the student" or a regular alphabetical one with words of the students' choice.
Students have to create the book and add pictures from magazines, or drawn/copied.
Personalizing a dictionary means that each student gets to learn the words of his/her own choice, thus making the vocabulary relevant and more memorable.
Modal practice through "Dear Abby" columns has always been successful in my classes. Have each student write down a problem he or she has. The papers are then passed on to the next student in order to be read and given a written solution. The papers are passed on and on till all the students have read all the problems and given their solutions.
What makes this interesting is that the students have to read and write. They enjoy reading the solutions given by others and are creative when giving their own advice. The use of "you should/can/might/" etc to practice modals is perfect for advice, of course.
Students love to get their own paper back and read all the solutions to their problems
If you haven't yet tried Abstract Dialog role plays in your classrooms, you really should - for fun, originality and language practice. Abstract dialog role plays are scripts that have no absolute meaning and the students have to create a scenario in which the script would make sense.
Fun in advanced ESL classes and great for drama lessons, choose from a variety of topics on this site from the original scripts. Then, write your own or get students to create them.
Today, as a special, instead of a forum, I am opening this blog for teachers to ask for a quick idea in the ESL realm. In the comments section of this blog, ask a question, for example, "I need some speaking ideas for advanced students", " I want some homework ideas for Esl reading" etc. Please write in and I will reply with ideas. Visitors are invited to send their ideas too. - Lucille L.
In the previous blog, I suggested writing essays in a circle - continuation stories written by the students. This blog is just to refer to the page on this website that gives Essay Ending sentences and Essay Beginnings. Of course, you will probably have many, many ideas of your own, but often a prompt will help with suggestions for topics and ideas.
This works with all levels of ESL, and would succeed in a regular English class. Write the beginning of a story on the board. All the students write down what you wrote, on their piece of paper. Now, each student has to add to the story. The teacher can decide if the students should add one sentence or two sentences only, or if they just write for a given amount of time.
At the end of that given time, stop the students and have them each pass their essay on to the next student. The next student has to read the composition given to him/her and then continues the new story with a sentence/time limit as before. This continues until their own paper returns to them.
This activity means that students are composing, reading material written by others, using their imagination, practicing writing clearly so others can read their writing, and of course, practicing their English. Students always love the final results when they receive their original paper back with a story developed by everyone.
Returning to school after the all the holidays means having to stir up excitement in the students and getting them back to work again. A typical activity given by many teachers is to ask what the students did, what the most exciting event was, the most disappointing day etc.
Here is another idea that will broaden the thought process, yet be based on the students' real experiences.
Have the students think about something of interest that happened on any of their holiday days. They then have to write three essays giving three perspectives of that same event. For example, through the eyes of their mother, the baby and the dog; through the eyes of grandfather, the neighbor, the maid; from the perspective of the goldfish, a man, a woman.
This will give them a focus in which they can take a real experience and make themselves look at a situation in a variety of ways. Creative writers will enjoy embellishing, while other writers will be encouraged to find some interesting perspectives based on the same event.
This activity is wonderful for ESL classes, but can be used in any school classroom. An effective way to get your class to read is to have a box of prepared, laminated reading cards. Number each card, and keep these cards in a place where students don't have free access to them. While cards may automatically suggest a small sized piece of paper, I suggest 8 x 11 regular sized paper with enough material on it to engage the students. This is the "card" size suggested..
The idea is that these cards can be given to students as a warm up, cool down, planned reading session, after test relaxation. Having this ready set of reading cards means that the teacher always has something ready for the class.
Depending on the level of the class, collect articles, print out short reading passages with comprehension questions, short plays. Each card should be different. On each occasion that the card activity is done, the students get a new card, record the number of the card, read and do the activities that the card suggests. Writing is never done on the card. Preferably, the cards should be laminated; it is this presentation that makes it different from a regular handout. Lamination also protects all the preparation work done by the teacher.
As time goes by, different sets of cards can be prepared so that the teacher eventually builds up a little library of sets of cards that can be used with different classes and levels.